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Monday, November 07, 2005

Curricula by Google

Through the tentacles of the blogosphere, I have met a fellow chemist Mark Ott at Jackson Community College. He has been screencasting some material on general chemistry and we have had a chance to compare our experience. He likes to create short Flash segments to augment his class that he records without an audience. My current approach is to screencast the entire lecture so that the whole course can be experienced remotely.

Even though we differ in exactly how we implement screencasting, we agree that our material should be openly accessible and welcome that others use it (with attribution). This create the interesting situation where we both cover the same material in different ways. For example, here is my way and Mark's way of teaching Lewis structures. All of our students benefit from this.

Mark has also started a blog for his class. With Michelle Francl's quantum chemistry blog and screencast/podcast, Berkeley's webcasts, Woodman's tutorials, Claremont's pre-lectures and my Organic I and III we are actually developing a robust and redundant collection of high quality university level chemistry lectures that are available to anyone. And this does not include all the material that is just audio or text.

We are approaching a time when anyone will be able to learn anything by turning a Google search into a curriculum of course lectures and self-grading assignments. It seems that this bottom-up approach of educators acting independently and without a common format is moving faster than coordinated efforts such as MIT OpenCourseware or World Lecture Hall.

Of course students will still have to pay to get credit.


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