ChemWiki, free textbook for University students

Written by: Captain Skellett // March 3rd, 2011 // Science Communication

This week, thousands of Australians went back to Uni starting a new semester of study. For some, science is their bag and they’re picking up a chemistry class or two. I’ve been there, and they’ve got a big year ahead.

There’s nothing quite like studying chem. Is it the nerdiness? The lab work? The elegant complexity and simplicity of laws? Perhaps its the joy of pushing electrons, pure love of a benzene ring, cherished conjugated systems or perfectly balancing equations.

But it takes a while to get to that state of love, like dating an attractive person with a terribly annoying habit. Don’t drop out, seek counseling at the ChemWiki.

An open access textbook, ChemWiki is a collaborative approach towards chemistry education. Students and faculty members write and rewrite sections to make it accurate and easy to understand. It’s been in development for two and a half years, and over 2000 people have contributed.

I first heard about it when it was still an infant wiki in swaddling clothes from Kyle Finchsigmate at The Chem Blog, which is now sadly shut down. Kyle is the reason I started blogging, being the first blog I subscribed to after his Nacho Average Cheesecake post changed my life.

Since those small beginnings, $2000 and a handful of uni classes spreading the news, it has grown pretty huge. It’s at the stage where it could replace paper textbooks for Uni chem courses, which is a saving of at least $150 per student. It’s ideal for Universities who are embracing new technologies in the classroom, like the University of Adelaide who gave a free iPad to every new student this year.

Unlike paper textbooks (and most hypertextbooks too,) the ChemWiki is designed in a non-linear way. You can jump from topic to topic with hyperlinks, so knowledge is constructed to suit the student. For me, chemistry only really came together in third year when the separate subjects wove together like a tapestry. It suddenly ALL made sense. But with non-linear learning, its easier to see patterns and connections and build up a frame of understanding as you go. I’m a fan.

I can’t recommend the ChemWiki enough. It covers coursework about analytical, biological, organic and inorganic topics, and is perfect for Chemistry students at Uni. Get involved and spread the word!

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google


4 Responses to “ChemWiki, free textbook for University students”

  1. Gemma Killen says:

    Random thing: They gave all the first year science students at Adelaide free Ipads this year as they are trying to faze out text books and paper! lucky bastards.

  2. Mike Seyfang says:

    Thanks Kap’n this is a great reference point. My daughter is struggling with Biology at Uni having skipped most science pre-reqs at school. Have you or your readers got any hot tips for good OER Biology suitable for students like her??

    Gemma – you are onto us, next year the Faculty of Sciences hopes to be ‘textbook free’ as we try to show leadership in the shakeout that I think will result in a lot of ‘free textbooks’. Google #uofaipad for clues…

    The makers of ChemWiki are working on a BioWiki, but it’s not online yet. Don’t know any off the top of my head, but post a comment if you find something.

  3. vivek says:

    i am very excited to see and to learn online

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