In Praise of Ian Guch

Readers know how I feel about Free and Open Resources for teaching. I think that, assuming some minimum standard of quality is met, they are always better than for-charge, locked away versions. Eight years ago, when I first started teaching chemistry, I went in search of various online resources that held to a similar philosophy. It didn’t take me long to find the Cavalcade o’ Chemistry, a site of resources built by Ian Guch.

It’s hard to describe the barebones nature of the Cavalcade at that time. Fortunately, I don’t have to, as there are still some wisps of the original Brinkster site online. But it didn’t have to be fancy. It just had to have useful stuff on it. Which it did, in spades. Ian had posted most (if not all) of his labs and handouts for other teachers to use freely, and I did what I always used to do in those situations: I diligently copied every item I could find on the site, and socked them away in my own collection for use when and where future me might want to. So done, I forgot about the Cavalcade, except when I went in to my collection to find an extra problem set for a student to use in my course.

Until this year, when I had reason to go back to the source to find a particular solution to a particular problem (one of the cool things about Ian’s stuff is that his problems can be quite creative, requiring a good bit of cross-unit thinking by students). And I discovered that the site had moved. Not only that, but it was better than ever. Ian has moved the Cavalcade over to a modern Wordpress site, and has added quite a bit of new material in the form of tutorials, and general helpfulness for students. He’s also updated the terms of his usage policy to my preferred Creative Commons license, which always makes me happy. And he’s as generous as ever with the work that he is doing.

Go check out Ian’s new and improved Cavalcade o’ Chemistry, and send him a note if you dig what he’s doing (also, tell your Chemistry friends). While he seems to have retired his Jello Biafra references during the move, I’ll say my final thanks with the following video: