Review of Open Educational Resource: OpenOChem.org

OpenOChem is an interactive homework system design primarily for organic chemistry and related subjects. The OpenOChem system integrates into existing Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Canvas, Google Classroom, and Blackboard. The key advantage of OpenOChem is that it has an interface for chemical structure problems, including reaction mechanisms. While there are other freeware chemistry drawing applications available, this is the only open access one I have found that combines a homework problem-set system with a chemistry drawing interface.

The OpenOChem offers many features that a homework system like Sapling Learning offers, such as creating problem sets and question banks, sharing them with other professors or courses, providing instantaneous feedback, and various activity types including adaptive quizzes. The system offers a pre-existing bank of over 2000 questions, and the ability to create your own questions that are licensed via Creative Commons. In addition to standard question types, such as multiple choice, true/false, calculated formulas, etc., OpenOChem offers 2D structure drawing questions that recognize stereochemistry, 3D structure questions including conformational analysis, Newman projection questions, and reaction mechanism or “arrow-pushing” questions. In addition, the interface allows the instructor to include sophisticated chemical structures in the question text itself.

As mentioned, the OpenOChem system integrates into Blackboard directly, eliminating the need for students to pay additional fees, sign up for other sites, or download additional software. Unfortunately, this is also the primary drawback at this point because it requires our Blackboard administrator to add the OpenOChem software and license key on the backend. I have already submitted 2 tickets to the LaGuardia Helpdesk but have not received any answer on them yet. While this has prevented me from testing out the system on my own, the website (http://openochem.org/ooc/) provides a great deal of information and screenshots and example videos of the way the system works.