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Apr 2, 2013 10:00 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Google gives UA chemistry professor much more than search results

TUCSON-You have flipped through the pages and studied hard, but that chemistry still stumps you.

"It's a cool subject, but it's just a lot of memorization," says UA sophomore Ashley Ayala.

But next year students like Ayala, who is pre-med, will be able to get some extra help online.

Google has awarded UA Chemistry Professor Katrina Miranda a $50,000 grant to create an online chemistry course. It will involve everything from quizzes to online lectures. "This is really a course to provide the fundamentals of chemical bonding," Miranda says.

However, there is a difference between this and a regular online course. This is called a "Massive Open Online Course", or "MOOC". That means it's not for credit and anyone with internet access from around the world can sign up. "We have no idea how many people will register for these courses and that's part of the experiment, to gauge the worldwide interest in such a course," Miranda says.

It's an idea that is gaining popularity as more people turn to technology.

Over the last few years Google has sponsored several MOOCs at universities across the country. "We don't know where this is going and it's better to be involved from the beginning, rather than respond to other institutions and companies developing these types of programs," Miranda says.

She hopes it will be a way for students and other chemistry enthusiasts to learn the basics from a reliable source. "There's a lot of information on the web currently and students are constantly going to YouTube and other sources to look for information," Miranda says.

While Miranda and Ayala say learning online isn't quite the same as in class, since the course is free, there is really nothing to lose by signing up.

Miranda plans to finish creating the course over the summer. She hopes to start teaching it in September.

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