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Soderberg Takes Part in Collaborative ChemWiki Creation

Posted by Jenna Ray on Monday, Jul. 22, 2013


Tim Soderberg, associate professor of chemistry, has received a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to assist in the creation of a single, flexible resource for chemistry education. This learning tool could provide students not only with a supplement or alternative to their traditional textbook, but also the opportunity to develop content for an integrated online resource.

The hyper-textbook project is led by Delmar Larsen, associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with Sonoma State University, Diablo Valley College, Contra Costa Community College, Hope College, and the University of Minnesota, Morris. The team is developing, delivering, and expanding content for chemistry education through an online resource called the ChemWiki. Soderberg got involved in the project several years ago when he began writing a new textbook on organic chemistry Larsen heard about the text and offered to integrate it into the wiki.

The project is organized around a collaborative approach to chemistry education in which students and faculty continuously revise an Open Access textbook, resulting in a high-quality and universally accessible resource. Soderberg’s task is to integrate the site’s first-semester content and create a core set of organic chemistry modules that can later be expanded by other faculty and students.

While the project “is still in a relatively early phase,” Soderberg hopes that the site’s steady readership growth will continue and that “more university courses will use the ChemWiki as a major teaching resource.” This hope is bolstered by his faith in the merits of the project.

“What is great about the ChemWiki project is that it provides a platform for chemistry faculty and students to work together to create a constantly updated resource for people who are learning and teaching chemistry,” he says.

Soderberg and the project team are enthusiastic about the wiki’s multiple-author construction approach, which they believe enhances usage flexibility. The team will welcome student input on the content shortly, as the NSF grant includes support for several Morris students to work on the project over the next two academic years.

“Depending on their background, interest, and ability,” says Soderberg, “students could work on creating practice problems and solutions, researching and writing about interesting examples that illustrate the interdisciplinary relevance of organic chemistry, creating interactive learning modules, or even working on writing sections of the core pages.”

For more information on the ChemWiki project, please contact Soderberg at soderbt@morris.umn.edu.