How To Use This Site

Submitted by admin on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 01:46

ChemPaths: Not an Online Textbook, an Integrated Student Portal

What is ChemPaths?

ChemPaths is an integrated student portal into chemistry content--an online learning experience. In some ways it is like a textbook, but it can do a lot more than the typical textbook.To help you to become comfortable with this online learning experience, this tutorial descrubes useful aspects of navigation, various tools available on the site, and how you can use an online tool for bookmarking and note-taking.

Each year instructors assign a textbook as required reading for their students. "Read sections 4.3-4.9 by Monday's Lecture." Lately, these instructions have expanded to become "Read sections 4.3-4.9 from your text, and look online at the following useful tutorials." And even further, now textbook authors are including a number of external resources either available online or on a CD included with the textbook purchase. ChemPaths is the Student Portal of the Chemical Education Digital Library (The ChemEd DL), and has been built to assist instructors in providing a means to bring all of these multimedia resources into one cohesive package ready for student-use. In short: ChemPaths is your textbook, online tutorials, and web-resources all in one package. 

ChemPaths has been designed using current research in learning methods and has been tested in multiple courses to make it a user-friendly and helpful online chemistry tool. The site's slogan is Learning to Meander, and we hope that you learn to explore how chemistry is interconnected. The more time you spend exploring and gaining a broad perspective on chemistry topics, the better you will be able to master the more complex topics! 

Useful Terminology

This site uses specific terminology to describe navigation and layout. A ChemPath is a set of pages grouped in some specific manner. One example of a ChemPath is the GenChem Textbook. This path is linked to at the top of every page and gives all users access to a full copy of a standard general chemistry textbook in a traditional chapter-based layout. Another ChemPath, Chemistry 104, Lecture 3, Spring 2011, has been designed by an instructor to list topics in order of the schedule of lectures in a course. At third example of a ChemPath is this tutorial on how to use the site; it contains a series of pages designed to help you learn about ChemPaths. Instead of having all instructors use the same "book" (order of topics), this site allows each instructor to organize material so that it more closely matches the lectures, labs, or homework encountered in a course. Your instructor has likely reorganized this content and trimmed it to match his or her concept of what will be most likely to enhance your learning in a given course. 

As you read through your instructor's ChemPath, the bottom of the page will have a set of links to be used for navigation along the path. If a page has a set of sub-pages (such as sections within a chapter), these sub-pages will be shown. For example, the bottom of this page lists three subpages (Meandering Off-path;Using Jmols to View Molecules; and Taking Notes Online (Diigo)). The next page in the ChemPath is Meandering Off-Path, so a link to it appears in the lower right corner of this page.

Here is an example page that has a number of sub-pages, as well as links (highlighted in yellow) for going backward within the pathway or forward. The link "Redox Couples" will take you to the page that precedes this on in the ChemPath. The link "Group IA: Alkali Metals" will take you to the page that follows this one. The link "up" will take you up one level. For example, you might be in a section within a chapter; if so, "up" will take you to the main chapter page. 


"Continuing along a path" is what we call it when you visit your course's ChemPath and simply click links at the lower right to read straight through the material.Tthis is similar to reading a book, page after page. Unlike a traditional book, though, ChemPaths makes it easy to jump around and visit related material that may help you to learn what is on the page you are reading. For instance, you may see a reference to an example from another page. Visiting these other pages is called meandering off-path. ChemPaths was designed to facilitate such meandering. As you click through to other pages "Return to Original Page Content" is added to the links in the navigation at the bottom of the page. When exploring, you can go back on-path without resorting to many clicks of the back-button on your browser. It also allows you to bookmark pages you find along with a set of breadcrumbs so you have a record of what you were learning about within the context of your pathway. 

Click the link below and to the right (Meandering Off-Path) to continue along this tutorial pathway.