AN INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY
. By Chung Chieh (e-mail), Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L3G1
1999 CONFCHEM

AN INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY

By Chung Chieh (e-mail), Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1

Abstract

Internet or web sites can store texts, articles, figures, computer simulations, multimedia segments, assignments, quiz and test questions, student records, discussion records and other materials. Information can be in the form of textbooks with the added flexibility of being hyper-linked for dynamic access. Because browsers are easily available, websites offer many benefits for educators and students. Websites have replaced posters, loudspeaker announcements, and notice boards.

I have developed a website for students at the University of Waterloo, and it has been in operation for a few years. Files for the website reside on a twin-CPU SUN Ultra Enterprises Unix server, but many pages have links to other internet sites. It can be accessed by anyone using a browser anywhere at any time, thus, it serves as a cyber office.

This website evolved from an earlier design of a Computer Assisted Chemistry Tutorial (CACT) system, which resided on a server of a local computer network of IBM PCs. Our students used CACT for several years before we adopted the internet technology. Thus, we call the web site Internet CACT, or simply CACT.

One of the important features for the Internet CACT is to conduct quizzes over the internet. Students have the choice of going to small group tutorials and write 5 class-room quizzes or writing 9 to 10 CACT quizzes over the Internet per term. During the Fall term (September-December, 1998), 650 of the 995 students registered in Freshman Chemistry I (CHEM120) have written 9 CACT quizzes each over the Internet site. During the Winter term (January-April), 390 of the 610 students registered in Freshman Chemistry II (CHEM123) have written 10 quizzes each over the Internet. Their marks were recorded on the same server. A locally developed program is used for this operation. While it is functioning, the website is constantly been maintained, developed, and updated.

A counter was placed in the CACT site during the Fall term of 1998. Usually, the numbers of access is about 20 per day. However, a few days before major tests and final examinations, the numbers of access were between 500 to 700 per day, usually at night. When the counter was in place, between 5 to 10 seconds was added to the time required for loading the menu. We have disabled the counter, for the convenience of students.

In this article I will share my experiences in implementation, design, development, operation, and maintenance, comment on the future outlook of using websites for teaching and learning, and will discuss our quiz design and operation. The CACT website address is http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cchieh/cact/cact.html.

E-mail: cchieh@uwaterloo.ca