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Echem project wins Dreyfus Foundation award

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Lonnie Martin and Alex Pines use laser pens to demonstrate fluorscence.
Lonnie Martin and Alex Pines use laser pens to demonstrate fluorscence.

April 30, 2010

The College of Chemistry’s eChem project has received an $80,000 grant from The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The grant helps fund the first phase of the eChem online chemistry education project headed by Professor Alex Pines and Instructor Mark Kubinec.

“The goal of the eChem project is to use internet technology to advance chemistry education,” says Kubinec. “We are delighted that the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation shares our vision for increasing the accessibility of the highest quality chemistry courses, both for UC students and for science students around the world.”

The eChem curriculum is being prepared for filming this summer, with initial delivery in early 2011. The college is partnering with UC Berkeley’s Educational Technology Services (ETS) to provide professional-quality production for all video components, and with UC Berkeley Extension to distribute the course through its existing extensive network.

The first eChem course will be based on Chem1A lectures and demonstrations that have been refined by Pines and Kubinec through more than 30 years of collective teaching experience. The lecture format will not be abandoned, but it will be reshaped for optimal online learning and enhanced with demonstrations by Lonnie Martin, the college’s demonstration specialist.

The eChem project's Mark Kubinec lectures in Pimentel Hall
The eChem project's Mark Kubinec lectures in Pimentel Hall

Pines is a renowned teacher who won the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986. Kubinec, who earned his Ph.D. in 1994 with David Wemmer (who was an early student of Pines), won chemistry’s Bruce H. Mahan Outstanding GSI Teaching Award. Since 1981, Martin has been creating demonstrations, often colorful and loud, that demonstrate the power of chemistry.

The college will post the entire eChem instructional content online with free access to the public. A fee will be charged only for UC Berkeley course credit and for access to an instructor. The college will apply all course fees directly to the costs of maintaining and developing the course.

The course will enable the students to enjoy their coursework and to learn even more effectively than in a typical lecture course, as it will use the technology that modern web-savvy students use everyday to shape their lives.

Says Dean Mathies, “This project is a key element in rethinking the college curriculum for more efficient and effective delivery to our students.”

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