. By Chung Chieh (e-mail), Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L3G1

9. Internet CACT Future

As the Internet culture spreads, more and more professors, teachers, and organizations are constructing web sites for their courses, departments, and schools. The growth of educational material on the Internet is similar to the growth of information on the Internet. They grow because many enthusiastic educators are constantly making information available on the Internet. The number of Internet servers has increased exponentially. A count of Internet servers shows a rapidly increasing rate on top of a huge number. To complicate the matter further, each server has many sub-servers and divisions. These days, students ask for the web addresses for the courses they are taking, and such requests will no doubt increase the number of web pages.

Life in cyber space is multidimensional, multicultural, cross discipline, and exciting. We enjoy each other's web pages. Once we have created a web site, we like to see it grow and improve so that it becomes useful. Furthermore, we like the web site visitors to benefit. There is no boundary to limit improvement and growth. In the future, more Java scripts and Java applets, animations, demonstrations, and simulations will be added to make the web site more dynamic and interactive. Learning by doing leads to better comprehension and a higher degree of skill retention.

The INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY is a web site for courses and this template provides a consistent way to communicate with students. Like any educational material, reactions from students are not uniform. Some students, who do not understand the chemical concepts, are further frustrated by the computer technology. They need help and guidance both on academic and on emotional matters. They need to be understood and handled with sensitivity.

On the other hand, some ex-students, who have used the system, tell me that they felt the CACT offers innovative material for them, and they think it has had some positive impact on their lives. While they are in the course, these students constitute the silent majority, because few have said much.

Statistics on students' reactions to the Internet CACT have yet to be collected. During the past two years, we were busy constructing and improving the site.

The INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY has a workable framework, and there is room for making it more educational, attractive, flexible, resilient, and elegant. To date, the INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY provides some educational functions. It too contributes to the Internet culture because it shapes the mindscape of students. Both culture and mindscape are hard to define, but they mutually affect and change each other. The INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY must change accordingly with the culture over time.

More development work is needed to make the Internet CACT a good resource and a useful database for a chemist. Graphics, simulations, generation of problems, interactivity, peer discussion, indices, and the ability to accept enquiries are some of the desirable features to be implemented in the future. Even with limited support, effort will be made to improve over time to make the INTERNET SITE FOR FRESHMAN CHEMISTRY an interesting cyber space for freshman chemistry.