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Is There a Future for JCE Software?


Nancy S. Gettys
Technical Editor, JCE Software
University of Wisconsin-Madison
209 N. Brooks
Madison, Wisconsin 53015-1116

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the Fall 1997 CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.
The title of this article may be surprising to readers who recall my article in last spring's newsletter (1) in which I reported many new developments at JCE Software. It comes from a question asked by a colleague visiting Journal House a few months ago. As he passed through my office, he asked if, with the comprehensive CDs developed by textbook publishers, there really was any reason to continue to publish the small programs that have been the staple of JCE Software issues. At the time I was a bit defensive. Upon reflection, I realize I should not have been.
It is obvious that JCE Software cannot compete with commercial publishing companies who can alford to hire teams of professional computer programmers and graphic artists to work with chemistry educators in developing instructional material. We do not have the resources, and frankly, it has never been our goal to provide a compressive chemistry curriculum on disk, CD, the Internet, or any other media. Our purpose has been and remains to make available innovative new
media for chemistry education. Our regular issues generally consist of modest projects developed by an individual or a small group of educators, designed to meet the specific needs they have enco14ntered in their classrooms. These publications are u~eful to other educators and to students as they stand, but perhaps more important. they provide ideas and examples for others. Past publications are the ancestors and spring-boards of the current major efforts of commercial pub-Ushers on CD .. ROM and the Internet Some publishers have even purchased licenses to include JCE Software publications in their products. 
It is important to encourage indiv[dual instructors to continue to experiment with and develop media for their students~ In education, as in science, we cannot afford the attitude that it has aU been done-that because you do not have the best tools or newest equipment, you cannot do important research and contribute to the field . . New ideas developed from as many sources as pos-sible and shared with the community are as vital to the health of research as they are to laboratory research. 
A greater danger to the continued existence of JCE Software may come from authors and developers publishing their own materials on the Internet rather than submitting them for publication. While this direct route is certainly easier than publication in a peer· reviewed academic journal, it has some major draw-backs for both the author and the user. Because the material does not go through the peer review or editorial process. there are no checks on the accuracy of the product John Moore's editorial in the September 1997 issue of the Jou rna I of Chemical Education (2) explores the consequences. both positive and negative, of the freedom of Internet publication. In short, there are no guarantees that what the user gets is correct, and there is no input to the author to help make the publication better. Also. after all the long hours of work put into the development of the product, there is no "stamp of approval,. that comes from publication in a recognized academic journal. Such credentials are generally nec-essary for retention and advancement in academic positions. 
ls there a future for JCE Software? There is a need for such a publication. Innovative media for chemistry education should be made available to everyone and the authors deserve professional recognition for their achievements. In or .. der to survive, changes will be necessary. As submis-sions of traditional software decline, publication of spe-cial issues, video, and applications of past publications including multimedia presentations and HTML docu-ments incorporating JCE Software video wiU increase. With the publication of the Chemistry Comes Alive I CD-ROM series (3) the video and animation developed with funding from Images of Chemistry (4) and from other sources, some of which has been published on the ChemDemos and ChemDemos II and Titration Tech· niques Videodiscs (5, 6, 7) win be widely available to educators in an easy-to-use digital format. As instruc· tors find uses for this tremendous resource in their lectures, lessons, homework, examinations, etc., they are encouraged to share their ideas with others by submitting their work to JCE Software. These publica-tions in turn may inspire the next generation of new media for chemistry education. With the continued wiJiingness of the chemistry education community to both submit their work and purchase issues. JCE Soft-ware has the potential of a very long and exciting future. 
1. Gettys, N. S. "JCE Software: Changes for Chang-ing Times" Computers in Chemical Education News· letter, Spring 1997.
2. Moore. J. W. "Editorial: Font of Information. Vanity Press, or Intellectual Tool?" J. Chern. Educ .• 1997, 74, 1021.
3. Jacobsen, J. J.; Moore. J. W. "Chemistry Comes Alive!, Volume 1" J. Chern. Educ. Software. 1997, SP 18. 9154099. 
4. Images of Chemistry, National Science Foundation Instructional Materials Development grant ESI-
5. Moore, J. W.; Jacobsen, J. J.; Hunsberger, L. R.; Gammont S. D.; Jetzer, K. H.; Zimmerman, J. ''ChemDemos Videodisc'', J. Chem .. Educ. Soft-ware. 1994, SP 8.
6. Moore. J. W.; Jacobsen, J. J.; Jetzer, K. H.; Gilbert, G.; Mattes, F.; Phillips, D.; Lisensky, G.; Zweerink, G. ,.ChemDemos II'', J. Chem. Educ. Software, 1996, SP 14.
7. Jacobsen, J .. J.; Jetzer, K. H.; Patani, N.; Zimmerman, J. uTitration Techniques Videodisc.,, J. Chem. Educ. Software, 1995, SP 9. 
10/20/97 to 10/24/97