An Introduction to Chemistry online lecture



E-mail :

If you are new to the site and if haven’t already done so, click on the Information link on the right above to read about the purpose of this site.

I’ve posted this message to provide an example, but the purpose of this site is not to get feedback for my own work (although I do certainly welcome that). The purpose is to provide a forum for others to share their work and get comments.

I teach chemistry for non-science majors at Monterey Peninsula College, and I teach in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies department at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

I’ve been making online lectures to support my text (An Introduction to Chemistry by Mark Bishop). I don’t like to see myself on the screen, so I’ve been using Camtasia for video screen captures and audio.

Because I’m just starting, it would be great to get comments and suggestions before I get too far into the process. You can see a nine-minute example online lecture at

What do you think? Please leave comments by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” link above.


4 thoughts on “An Introduction to Chemistry online lecture”

  1. These types of videos are great, but they are (sortof) tied to a specific text, so another instructor might have a hard time using them of they are not using THAT text.
    I got rid of my required text a few years ago and gave my college students a set of choices of texts to get for reference, which none do. (Another topic for later)
    I make screencasts as well, but very specific for difficult topics (difficult as defined by my students, I ask them which they would like me to make) but I would love for there to be MORE of these type whose links I could give to my students.
    Sorry for the long comment, but this was the easiest place to put them, on your sample. 🙂

    1. Hi Mark…thanks for being the first one to post a comment. We’re off and running, and I hope others join us.

  2. Mark,

    I found your example lecture boring. Even separating salt and water can be interesting. Where can people who live in an arid region near the ocean get drinking water? People buy “sea salt” to replace table salt because of the inflated claims made for it. How is sea salt manufactured? Giving a context for the importance of the separation of salt and water is much more interesting than describing the use of a physical property such as volatility. Obtaining pure water and producing sea salt have importance in health, commerce, and politics. Demonstrate that something is important first and then students are more likely to learn it.

    I don’t use online lectures in my introductory and general chemistry lectures. I do use web pages a lot during my lectures. For example, for distillation of water I might start with a web page offering a home distillation system for sale. How does it work? Is it effective? Is it worth the money? I would then talk about non-volatile metals and bacteria left in the distillation vessel and the possible other volatiles (e.g. chloro-hydrocarbons) that will distill with water. I ask if they decided to produce water by distillation, how do they dispose of the (possibly toxic) residue? I then jump to a web page showing the legal definition for the labels on bottled water. I describe how each of these is made. I can usually get a student to hold up a bottle of water and read the label. They are usually surprised that water is not the only ingredient. I also point out that some types of bottled water do not need to list ingredients. Note: Bottled water consists of 100% chemicals in a container made of chemicals.

    An online lecture is just that: a lecture presented online. At best it provides a substitute for a missed lecture or an alternative lecture that might be more interesting. That is very different from showing a video of the thermite explosion or web page of a synthetic ruby to illustrate a reason for what you want them to learn. I think it is crucial to get them to see that there is a chemical explanation for what an instructor shows online.

    Gus Guzinski

    1. Gus…thanks for contributing.

      Before I launched into making online lectures, I had to consider some guiding principles. Based on what I’ve heard from many people doing screencasts and videos, I decided that one of the main goals would be to make my screencasts short and to the point. As I’m planning each screencast, I ask myself what are the specific things I’m trying to teach, and how can I explain these things as concisely as possible. I’m sure that this does indeed lead to some pretty boring stuff sometimes.

      The goal of this screencast was to describe how matter can be classified into mixtures, compounds, and elements and then to provide some information about elements. Although I recognize that your approach to describing water and salt would make the presentation more interesting, describing water and salt was not on the list of goals. There’s more of that in the chapter on compounds.

      So, what do people think? How important is it to make screencasts short? How important is it to provide more interesting information, even if it makes the screencasts longer?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *