The fabulous world of “the Internets” is coming to chemistry education. Some might argue it is already here. The father-and-daughter comedy team (and chemistry professors) Harry and Laura Pence are, as I type this, leading a session on how social networking can and is being used to teach chemistry. I sat in on part of the morning talks and was intrigued by the healthy crowd the session drew; there seemed to be a lot of professors in the audience trying to figure out how to harness this Web stuff.
A little case study of using Facebook as a discussion tool was presented, with some interesting results. An Iowa State professor created a closed Facebook study group for an intro organic lab and managed to attract about half the students.
My question is this: Does professorial involvement in Facebook make it inherently uncool, subsequently rendering the site obsolete?
Some other interesting tidbits came out of the presentation from Mitch Garcia, of Chemical Forums and Chemistry Blog fame. The UC Berkeley grad student unveiled the stats for Chemical Forums: 21 new users log on each day and more than 6,400 people are registered on the site, which has had 2.1 million unique visitors since its inception. Not bad. Perhaps the chemical space in the lab will be most effective when it is student generated?