Development and Popularization of E-Learning Chemistry Educational Resources in Japan



1 Chemistry Education Using a Computer in Japan

When Shimozawa was the chairman of the Division of Chemical Education in the Chemical Society of Japan in 1981, he started to develop computer-aided software for chemistry education [1 - 3]. The application of CAI to chemistry was still at the research level, and only sparsely used practically for schooling. We organized the Chemical Software Society of Japan (CSSJ), and collected and distributed a lot of chemistry CAI software free to the members. In the world, there are several CAI developer groups, such as Project SERAPHIM (USA), which provides for interaction with a wide variety of persons who are interested in problems associated with education in chemistry [4].
In the Internet age, the chemistry teaching resources are prepared assuming the LAN network utilization. The e-learning chemistry education is carried out now, at last, even in Japan. E-learning devices include personal computers, CD-ROMs, digital television, personal digital assistants (PDA) and mobile phones [5]. Most chemistry teachers are able to teach students with several e-learning methods.

2 Interdisciplinary Action between Chemistry and Computers

The author was hired for the industrial chemistry department of Fukui National College of Technology as an assistant in 1974. The National College of Technology was a school for the Ministry of Education initiative, and it promoted and became the flagship for science and engineering education. When we used paper tapes and cards for computer input, we began incorporating computer education into the curriculum. The author became a special teacher for computation in the industrial chemistry department. At that time, all we knew about computers was their arithmetic operation function. However, the author came to understand computers as being expected tools in the future. When NEC's personal computer with PC-8001 appeared, with BASIC installation, the author lost no time in purchasing one. We developed a program for solving scientific problems and enjoyed the work of BASIC programming with our students using. Founding "The Chemistry PC Workshop" in our college, I enjoyed an extracurricular activity with our students.
"The Chemistry PC Workshop" reflected the changing current in Japan [6]. The workshop was renamed as "The Japanese Association of Personal Computer for Chemists (JAPC)" in 1982. We had about 400 members registered at that time.
We published the JAPC Journal since 1982, held annual workshops since 1987, collected and distributed the free software, and published the Annual Reports of Chemical software since 1986. In addition, since telecommunication networking was popular among PC users in those days, we founded a special interest group (SIG) "Chemistry and Computer" in PC-VAN (now, BIGLOBE), in 1988 for personal computer communication. This SIG was operated by Hidehiko Nakano, Professor of Himeji Institute of Technology.
We published the JAPC Journal quarterly since 1982, in March, June, September, December. The characteristic features of this Journal are that many papers print the program codes and that they have opened it to public. The topic was "MOLDA" [7], a molecular modeling program developed by Hiroshi Yoshida et at. (Figure 1). The title was "Molecular Structure Data Processor MOLDA3". The visual materials shown here were all written in Japanese. Later, MOLDA grew up into a popular international molecular modeling program made in Japan. To our great regret, Yoshida passed away in January 2005.

Figure 1. Head page of Yoshida's paper [7].

Shin-ichi Sasaki invited the author, and I worked at Toyohashi University of Technology in 1985. Three years in Toyohashi were very worthwhile for me. The author got acquainted with Takeshi Yamada, who started chemical education using personal computers at Kyoto Institute of Technology. We made a joint research in Kyoto University. Based on the proposal of Yamada, the first workshop with computer demonstration was held in 1987. This workshop was the first symposium, and we held more in; Saitama University in 1988, Himeji Institute of Technology in 1989, Fukui National College of Technology in 1990 and Nagaoka National College of Technology in 1991. The characteristic feature of our symposium is its demonstration-based style. Introductory speeches are carried out in five minutes, followed by the computer demonstration lasting over an hour.

Figure 2. Example of the header type of abstracts report [8]

The workshops continued, although the organizing society changed the name to the Chemical Software Society of Japan. At first, Nishimoto organized a workshop at Osaka City University in 1992. Workshops were held at Tokyo National College of Technology (NCT), Tomakomai NCT, Fukui NCT, Rikkyo University, Osaka Prefecture College of Technology, Niigata University, Hitotsubashi University, Tsukuba Capio, and the last was held at Saitama University. The purpose of the discussion at the workshop was to understand the details of the software. Thus, 2 pages of manuscript abstracts begin with the header-style format, as shown in Figure 2, which is still used.

Figure 3. Book of "Annual report of chemical software in 1997" [9]

The authors were responsible for collecting and distributing the chemical software from members of our association. In the age of "The Association of PC for Chemists", we published "Annual Report of Chemical Software for PC" since 1986. Free chemical software is distributed with a copyright. The software collection report in 1997 was serials ISSN0919-4894 and ISBN4-906620-01-9 (Figure 3), and the software was distributed in floppy diskettes (FD). In the next generation, the memory size of software also increased, and we downloaded it from the SIG in PC-VAN. Thus, FD distribution ended. With the publication in 1997, we terminated the publication of the annual report. The format of the description constituted the content of the software in 2 pages. "The neutralization titration simulation program" (#9140) [10], is shown in Figure 4. This typically indicates that the same software could be used as a chemistry teaching material, even if it became old, for the requesting mail arrived even in 2005.

Figure 4. Number 9140 "the neutralization titration simulation program" [10].

The author has been involved in the interdisciplinary activities between "Chemistry and Computers" in Japan since 1982. I became the overseas researcher of the Ministry of Education in 1991. John Takashi Shimozawa was the president of our Association. Under Shimozawa's plan, I studied at University of Wisconsin. And, by getting permission from John W. Moore, I received 83 cases of software offered from the Project SERAPHIM [4]. These were registered in the Association's software records, and they were distributed to the members on request.
After the overseas work, we established the Chemical Software Society of Japan in 1992. Activities of the Association of PC for Chemists are inherited. In addition, the new activities were tackled as follows. Electronic publishing of the "Journal of Chemical Software" was published since vol.4 (1998).

Figure 5. Home page of the Chemical Software Society of Japan.

Figure 5 shows a home page of the Chemical Software Society of Japan. We promoted the Internet chemistry school, the current SCCJ School of Chemistry [11], since 1996.

Figure 6. Home page of "The SCCJ School of Chemistry" [11].

3 Establishment of the Society of Computer Chemistry, Japan

The author has been studying computers and chemistry, since 1982. After we established the association (JAPC) in Japan, the science groups concerning computers and chemistry were formed. For examples, the Division of Chemical Information and Computer Science in the Chemical Society of Japan, CBI Society, the Theoretical Chemistry Workshop, CAC forum, etc. We advocated powering up by the integration of the science groups related.
In 2002, we combined CSSJ with the Japan Chemistry Programs Exchange (JCPE), and established the Society of Computer Chemistry, Japan (SCCJ) [12]. The office is located not in Fukui, but in Tokyo, and Nagashima works as the officer in chief. Now, this situation is very good. The paper magazine, Journal of Computer Chemistry, Japan is issued quarterly. Semi-annual meetings are held in May and October.

Figure 7. The first textbook "Chemical Dry Lab in BASIC" [13].

4 Writing and Publication of Textbooks

We named computer-aided chemistry education "chemical dry lab". The author met Nakamura, Editor of Kyoritsu Shuppan. He evaluated the author's workshop activity, and he guided him to write the textbook. The first publication was "Chemical Dry Lab in BASIC"(Figure 7), written in 1984 [13]. Next in 1985, "Simulation of Chemical Experiments in BASIC"(Figure 8) was published [14].

Figure 8. The textbook "Simulation of Chemical Experiments in BASIC" [14].

Figure 9. The textbook "Practice of Instrumental Analysis on PC" [15].

Figure 10. The textbook "Chemistry Calculation Practice on PC" [16].

The personal computer in those days only accepted katakana, the phonetic Japanese letters. A program made up of a list of 10~20 lines was written in BASIC with sentences of graphics function, and it was the content which attempted to describe the chemical dry lab. The author produced the FD based system. It was aiming at the "Practice of Instrumental Analysis on the personal computer"(Figure 9) [15]. This textbook had a packaged FD.
The final work with Nakamura was "Chemistry Calculation Practice on the personal computer"(Figure 10) [16]. At present, this system can be utilized as an Internet version.
Computer education in Japan began with programming in FORTRAN and BASIC languages. We made textbooks for programming, for example, "FORTRAN77 for Industrial Chemistry" (Figure 11), in 1982 [17] and "BASIC programming for Industrial Chemistry" (Figure 12), in 1983 [18]. As the use of personal computers made progress, education for programming did as well, and became the main work in education.

Figure 11. The textbook "FORTRAN77 for Industrial Chemistry" [17].

Figure 12. The textbook "BASIC programming for Industrial Chemistry" [18].

Computer literacy education was increasingly required with the development of performance and popularization of personal computer. In 1994, "Information Technology in Chemistry" was published by Ohmsha, as an original textbook in personal computer literacy. The interface of personal computers changed to the Windows based OS, when the Internet was opened in 1995 to the public. In Fukui National College of Technology, we added literacy and information ethics in relation to the computer, to the teaching syllabus. This book (Figure 13) is the textbook for Internet correspondence. It is used in the five departments in our college.

Figure 13. The textbook "Base of Information Processing" [19].

Figure 14. The textbook "Primer of Computer Chemistry" [20].

As the textbooks for computer chemistry, the author wrote and continued to use this textbook "Primer of Computer Chemistry" (Figure 14) in 1999 [20]. Next is "Computer Chemistry" (Figure 15) in 2003 [21]. The last one is "Measurement and Control for Chemists" (Figure 16) in 1997. All of these textbooks are used in our college curriculum.

Figure 15. The textbook "Computer Chemistry" [21].

5 Execution and Popularization of E-learning Education

The terms, CAI (computer-aided instruction) and CAL (computer-assisted learning) were novel in the dawning of computers. Now, we use the term e-learning. The teaching resource development is described along with PC development, because we developed chemistry teaching resources since the ages of 8 bit PCs. My 8 bit PC, NEC PC-8001, could not display Chinese characters, or Kanji. We made many BASIC resources for chemical dry lab. Graphic resources of BASIC were useful for chemistry education.
The sixteen bit PC, NEC PC9801 series, was useful for the Kanji handling. Many PC 9801 computers were used in Japan with the ability to handle Kanji until the Internet age. The memory organization enabled us to utilize big programs, because the memory capacity increased with the installation of hard disk in addition to FD. Especially, video learning was useful for studying chemical experiments. By cutting and editing video files in a few minutes each, video images were utilized for chemical experiments [22]. The effective support was also possible on the Internet and school LAN. By using the Internet, we have a pool of education resources.

Figure 16. The present home page for the desk top size [24].

Figure 17. The display size optimized for mobile phones [23].

Today, almost all students have mobile phones, which are very suitable for the Internet terminal. The display of the present home page is for the desk top size (Figure 16), which is not suitable for the size of mobile phone displays. Thus, restructuring of the home page was performed to fit mobile phone displays. In our case (Figure 17), the display size of the physical chemistry experiment was optimized for a mobile phone [23]. By studying the experimental method beforehand in experiment, students can utilize this mobile web system.

6 Future Prospects

We expect that computer chemistry will become a main subject in the field of chemistry. We need to join and make progress together with the research groups in chemistry. The activities by research groups will become more important in chemistry education. Especially, international conferences are very important. They would help development of chemistry education in Japan. And, the development of e-learning chemistry resources is also very important. We will promote the development of these teaching resources and utilization of the e-learning system via the Internet.
As recent new techniques, we can use the video teleconference system on the Internet to connect conveniently. We can use video on demand (VOD) which enables us to utilize video teaching resources by LAN. We will also enjoy education improvement by utilizing various new useful facilities.
Though being different from the point of this paper, the volunteerism has been done for the electronic publishing. Our home page is supporting the Electrochemical Society of Japan (ECSJ)'s "Technology and Educational Research Group", and is organizing the electronic publishing of the "Journal of Technology and Education (ECSJ)" (Figure 18). Figure 19 shows the contents of the electronic publishing journal.

Figure 18. The electronic publishing of the magazine "Journal of Technology and Education (ECSJ)" [24].

Figure 19. The contents of the electronic publishing journal [24].

This work was presented at the 2005 Pacifichem symposium #316 "Internet in University Chemistry Education".

The author is especially grateful to these four professors; the late Shin-ichi Sasaki (Prof., Toyohashi University of Technology), John T. Shimozawa (Prof., Saitama University), Haruo Hosoya (Prof., Ochanomizu University) and John W. Moore (Prof., Wisconsin University) for their valuable advices, and Rachel Wells for her English check advice.


[ 1] The Chemistry Education Division of the Chemical Society of Japan, Chemistry Education by using a Microcomputer, Chemical Education, Japan, 29 (2), 1 (1981).
[ 2] John Takashi Shimozawa, Use of Microcomputer in chemical Education, J. Science Education Jpn, 5 (4), 2 (1981).
[ 3] Shi-nichi Sasaki, Winding the Scope of Chemistry, Abstracts of the 8th ICCE, 11 (1985).
[ 4] Project SERAPHIM HP
[ 5] E-learning
[ 6] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Fukui NCT 30 years annuals of computer chemistry education, Chemistry and Education, 53, 74-77 (2005).
[ 7] Keiichiro Ogawa, Hiroshi Yoshida, Hiroshi Suzuki, Molecular structure data processor MOLDA3, JAPC Journal, 6, 21-68 (1984).
[ 8] Abstracts of the Chemistry PC Workshop, The Chemical Software Society of Japan.
[ 9] Annual report of chemical software, The Chemical Software Society of Japan (1997).
[10] Touru Nanbu, Tadayosi Yoshimura, The neutralization titration simulation program, Annual report of chemical software, #9140, 133-134 (1997).
[11] The SCCJ School of Chemistry
[12] The Society of Computer Chemistry, Japan
[13] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Chemical Dry Lab in BASIC, Kyouritu Shuppan (1984).
[14] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Simulation of Chemical Experiments in BASIC, Kyouritu Shuppan (1985).
[15] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Practice of the Instrumental Analysis on PC, Kyouritu Shuppan (1988).
[16] Nobutaka Sato, Tadayosi Yoshimura, Chemistry Calculation Practice on PC, Kyouritu Shuppan (1991).
[17] Eiji Oshima (Ed.), FORTRAN77 for Industrial Chemistry, Nikkankougyou Shinbunnsha (1982).
[18] Eiji Oshima (Ed.), BASIC Programming for Industrial Chemistry, Nikkankougyou Shinbunnsha (1982).
[19] Fukui NCT, Base of Information Processing (2003).
[20] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Primer of Computer Chemistry, Science House (2003).
[21] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Computer Chemistry, Science House (2003).
[22] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Development and the use of Chemistry Teaching Video Materials by Internet Browser, J. Chem. Software, 4, 51-56 (1998).
[23] Tadayosi Yoshimura, Yuusuke Nakayama, Akinori Uejima, , Development an testing of chemistry education resources for a mobile phone, J. Comput. Chem. Jpn., 3, 35-40 (2004).
[24] Yoshimura's HP