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Landmark free online course, eeDc, demystifies everyday organic chemistry

Posted on 21 February 2017

Exploring Everyday Chemistry (eeDc), a pioneer University of York MOOC, delivered by the FutureLearn platform, attracted learners from over 100 countries.

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I really can't narrow it to one highlight. Thanks for your missionary approach to teaching. I enjoyed and appreciated all 4 sections and now have a 4 inch tall notebook for future reference as a lovely parting gift.

More than 5000 learners from well over 100 countries signed up for a first ever University of York MOOC, called Exploring Everyday Chemistry. The course started on 23 January and comprised four weeks of learning with 85 individual learning steps, including more than 30 videos and screencasts. It highlighted a range of chemistry-based topics relating to our everyday lives – from perfumes to antibiotics, brewing and sport, with an emphasis on the important role of organic chemistry. Aspects of recent research from the Department of Chemistry were included, together with examples of our undergraduate teaching materials.

Activities included experimenting ‘in the kitchen’ with hands-on projects ranging from extracting a plant fragrance, to testing the activity of spices against microbes – learners could share their results using tools such as Padlet and twitter (@eedcAndy, #FLchemistry).‌

A very interesting and informative course. What has made this MOOC especially enjoyable for me is Andy´s passionate teaching style. Being taught by someone with such passion in what they do makes the learning process an awful lot easier! And fun!

The course was designed to be of particular use to sixth-formers interested in developing independent learning skills to help the transition to university – marketing of the course to over 100 schools and colleges was supported by the University’s Widening Participation team with a range of publicity created for feeder schools and colleges.

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Indeed, this admissions season, a number of our UCAS applicants have mentioned MOOC’s, including Exploring Everyday Chemistry, in their personal statements. ‌

Learner feedback was extremely positive, including on the choice of topics, the presentation style and learning resources.

The course development was led by Professor Andy Parsons, assisted by undergraduate chemistry students Katie Martinelli and James Titterington, who helped select and compile course content, trial experiments and facilitate the running of the course (the course attracted over 2500 postings). 

This MOOC was one of the best I've followed so far. It helped me to refresh so much of the chemistry I learnt during my apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant years ago. My daughters, who are still at primary school enjoyed the kitchen experiments a lot. Thank you very much for this excellent course.

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 Mooc 4

The practicals were fun and the course was really interesting and insightful. Thank you York for this MOOC and I look forward to applying to your university next year.

Ian Barr, from the Centre for Lifelong Learning, who is coordinating MOOC activity at the University of York, wrote "Feedback from FutureLearn has been highly complimentary – the course has been deemed to be ‘excellent’ following Quality Assurance, and the trailer created to promote the course has been used as an exemplar by FutureLearn when meeting potential new European partners in how to create engaging content.

It’s been a genuine pleasure to work with Andy, and the team and share in their enthusiasm for both chemistry and delivering a first-class learner experience.

Following the success of the first run, a slightly revised version of the course will start on 3 July 2017. For details of the course content you might like to see our promotional video

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