UC Irvine’s new UCI OpenChem offers comprehensive chemistry curriculum to the masses.

The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) has launched a free online chemistry curriculum that offers videos to students and self-learners.

To create Open Chemistry (UCI OpenChem), UC Irvine partnered with OpenCourseWare, a 10-year-old project that aims to make higher education more accessible to the masses.

Currently, UCI OpenChem provides open videos that encompass UC Irvine’s entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum, with the exception of required lab courses. In total, UCI OpenChem includes 15 quarter-length videos, some of which include graduate course information.

UC Irvine representatives said they hope that UCI OpenChem will help to progress students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and better educate anyone who wishes to learn.

“Making knowledge open to the entire world is a wonderful result of the World Wide Web,” said Marshall S. Smith, under secretary of education for former President Bill Clinton and a recent senior counselor to current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “UCI has taken the next big step in this direction by presenting their entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum in an open format. This is a wonderful gift from a superb institution in the world’s greatest university system.”

UC Irvine has worked with OpenCourseWare since 2006, and has delivered 90 complete courses’ worth of material and hundreds of video lectures online for free during that time.

(Next page: Reaction to the open chemistry curriculum—and its potential impact)

“The UCI Department of Chemistry has broken new ground by allowing students to follow a coherent and integrated pathway toward full mastery of undergraduate chemistry,” said Gary W. Matkin, dean of Continuing Education, Distance Learning and Summer Session at UC Irvine. “This is the first time that students and professors can find a complete undergraduate major in a consistent and high quality video format on a single website.”

U.S. News and World Report highly ranked three of UC Irvine’s graduate programs at the UCI School of Physical Sciences: Organic Chemistry (11th), Physical Chemistry (12th), and Theoretical Chemistry (18th). Similarly, UC Irvine’s faculty includes multiple Sloan Research Fellows, three American Academy of Arts & Sciences fellows, four members of the National Academy of Sciences, and a former Nobel laureate.

“OpenChem is a significant milestone for UC Irvine as we’re providing an in-depth study of chemistry to students outside of our university, giving them the opportunity to study as if they were a UCI student,” said Kenneth C. Janda, dean of Physical Sciences. “Our video lectures are delivered by the most respected professors and researchers in the field of chemistry.”

 

UCI OpenChem’s launch coincided with the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s Open Education Week, which began on March 11. The week-long event was created to spread awareness for the open education movement, and to highlight open educational resources.

“We want to dramatically expand the role that open educational resources play in improving the quality of both teaching and learning,” said Duncan. “Open educational resources, or what we call OER for short, can not only accelerate and enrich learning; they can also substantially reduce costs for schools, families and students.”


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