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Elementary Articles is the official blog for the RSC's Learn Chemistry – your home for chemistry education resources and activities.

New Year, New Learn Chemistry

If Thomas Hardy had been a science teacher, his darkling thrush in the eponymous poem would surely have sung about the coming Association of Science Education conference - high on his agenda for the new year.

And whilst less blast-beruffled than we were at Liverpool in early 2012, we were no less excited about our plans for the coming year when we arrived at Reading on Wednesday. Item one for the Learn Chemistry team - release a major new update to the site!

And so, yesterday, in between busying ourselves with the world of science education at ASE 2013, we quietly updated our flagship home for chemistry education resources and services. 

We've added a bunch of visible and not-so-visible changes - many in response to user feedback, and many that we trust our users will enjoy and make the most of. Here's a quick run-down:

  • Bolder, simpler homepage. In response to user feedback we've simplified the shop window for Learn Chemistry. Now the focus of attention is on four key areas - search and browse (top), highlighted resources (middle left), community and news (middle right), and key site areas and links (bottom row).
  • New Logo! The Learn Chemistry Octopus is there, but he's making a little bit of way for our message: 'Enhancing learning and teaching with the RSC'. It does what it says on the tin.
  • Improved search results. Hitherto searching for, say, 'Protein Chemistry' yielded a surfeit of 'chemistry' results, and not enough 'protein chemistry' results. Jeff, our database guru, has made this aspect of search more useful and intuitive.
  • New resource browser. Below the search bar you can quickly and easily narrow the huge list of resources and data pages on Learn Chemistry from >3400 to a manageable dozen or so with just a handful of clicks. Select age range, audience, subject, context, or media to get rapidly to the right place.
  • New information panels on the homepage. Easier and more fun to browse around, with bigger, bolder images, and clearer text.
  • New Talk Chemistry community panel. The homepage now features a rotating feed of the latest comments from our 1000-user-strong chemistry teacher community on MyRSC.
  • New newsletter and feedback links on every page. All pages now have a combined social and contact panel. Let us know what you think, or register for updates using the feedback and newsletter links.
  • More compact and cleaner results listings. We've standardised and cleaned up the design scheme for our resource results listings, and added a nifty colour-coding system that helps you see at a glance which results are substance pages, resources, course material, and so on. 
  • Better resource video and document viewing pages. We've widened our resource pages - adding a nifty browser, and quadrupling the area for document and video previews. Web links will now also display either on the resource page, or will link you directly to the destination without the need to click through manually.
We hope you like what we've been up to. 2013 will be a busy and exciting year for us at RSC Education, so continue to watch this space for technical and design updates that will help you get even more out of our resources and tools for chemistry education.

PS: A big thanks to the team at Rave, James Bennett, Jeff White, and Rich Grandison for toiling away on the site whilst we drank Bellinis and had our feet massaged at ASE... 
Posted by Duncan McMillan on Jan 4, 2013 11:55 PM Europe/London

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