Purdue has the chemistry lab of the future today, complete with all-digital lab manuals and notebooks

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Configuring socially distanced lab spaces for 2,900 general chemistry students was logistically impossible, so Purdue University’s beginning chemistry labs are taking place online this fall, the next best thing to being there.

Or maybe better.

Well before the virus pandemic, Purdue’s Department of Chemistry was working on a “next-generation digital learning environment for chemistry.” That it happened to be highly useful in a pandemic is just fortuitous. While the virus accelerated development over the summer, the motive from the start in 2018 was to better apply technology to improve the student learning experience.

A core element of that is the development of a digital lab manual and digital lab notebook, which Purdue chemistry students on campus and online are using for the first time during the fall semester, replacing the traditional paper versions.

In a digital version, the traditional lab manual becomes an interactive multimedia resource

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