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From Jeff Byers:

I am attempting to develop an online discussion resource for the class. In brainstorming this issue, I realized that there is a venue for sharing mixtures of text and graphics between large numbers of orgo students – FACEBOOK! Thus I have set up a Facebook group for the course. This group is called Middlebury College Orgo (I know not a very creative name), and I encourage you all to join this group. NOTE – PLEASE DO NOT FRIEND ME! My friend list is used primarily for alumnae contact, and I think most of the info which might come my way as the result of en masse orgo friending would fall in the category of “too much information”.

You may be wondering now what the heck is up with an organic chemistry facebook group? I have wanted for some time to experiment with online networking to see if it improves learning and performance. I also recognize that there has to be both an element of requirement and award for this to work. I plan on using facebook in two ways.

1. Any student who makes meaningful regular posts at the facebook group for the duration of the semester will have their final quiz grade replaced with a perfect score. You will still take the quizzes every week in prelab, they just might not count for some of you.

2. Approximately one week before each midterm I will post a collaborative problem on the facebook group only. This exact problem will appear in the subsequent midterm. You may feel free to collaborate on this problem with anyone in the class prior to the test, and you are encouraged to post your best stab at a solution on the facebook group. Any posts on these problems will count towards the “regular meaningful posts” stipulation in point 1 above. The collaborative problem will be designed to be quite challenging, and I will offer no comments on it in person or online prior to the test.

A few quick thoughts on what I mean by “meaningful regular posts” Some examples of what I consider meaningful might be (in addition to comments on the collaborative mid term problem) comments on difficult assigned problems, insights into learning tricks you may have come up with in the course of your study, comments on recent “orgo-relevant” topics you may have come across in the recent press, or even relatively mundane but useful information such as possible mistakes in the text or answer key. Frankly, even creative orgo humor in the vein of some of the bonus questions are also welcomed.. In true blog style, you are encouraged to comment on previous posts by your classmates, and these too would be considered meaningful. I would say comments along the lines of “that looks good to me” or “hahaha that was funny” would not be considered meaningful. By “regular” I am setting the arbitrary number of two posts per week. Many of your entries will necessitate graphics based answers, so you may feel free to photograph handwritten material with your digital camera, or use one of the scanners available around campus, or use the structure drawing program Chemdraw which is available on many campus computers to create orgo pictures. I will have a subsequent emailing in which I will share some details of my playing around with chemistry graphics files to make this as straightforward as possible.

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