Online resources

Are you a university or college educator interested in implementing virtual laboratories in your courses? Virtual laboratories can be a great gateway to experimentation and can be incorporated in multiple ways: in-class activity, pre-laboratory activity to serve as “dry run” of an experiment, or fully remote lab unit.

University of Waterloo chemistry instructor Leanne Racicot in collaboration with the Center for Extended Learning, University of Ottawa and Western University, have developed two open-access virtual experiments centered around common topics in introductory organic chemistry. Aimed at 2nd year undergraduates, these interactive activities guide students as they make choices related to the experimental design and test their understanding of how laboratory techniques are applied. The use of video and images shows what is occurring at the molecular level to upgrade the understanding of chemical processes. Online experimental data sheets encourage students to record their observations and findings as if they were actually in the lab.

If you are a student either at the undergraduate or high school level, you are welcome to browse our virtual laboratories as well! You can use these activities to test your understanding of organic chemistry theory and procedures. If you have yet to take an organic chemistry laboratory, the virtual labs can give you an idea of what to expect from University of Waterloo courses. We focus on teaching students critical thinking skills by having them design their own laboratory procedures after teaching the principles they should apply in each experiment.

Based on this initial, an additional virtual lab was created, focusing on designing a substitution reaction following either a SN1 or SN2 mechanism. While this virtual lab does not feature videos of experimentation, it digs deeply in the mechanisms at the molecular level via interactive 3D animations. Stereochemistry is a major challenge when students start to learn about organic chemistry and we hope these animations help them understand what we mean by racemization and inversion!

Finally, Leanne has created a series of HTML-based micro resources for organic chemistry laboratories. These OER were created in H5P, a suite of various content types from flashcard sets to interactive images and videos. The link will allow you to try the resources, embed or adapt them to your needs.

Online Resources for Organic Chemistry Laboratories

Liquid-Liquid Extraction Virtual Laboratories

Liquid-Liquid Extraction Virtual Laboratories

Screen shot from virtual lab: 2-component mixture. Initial vial of the unknown solid mixture and unknown constituents. Is it an ionizable acid compound? or a non-ionizable compound?

These virtual labs are built in Twine, an open-access storytelling tool that can be customized to instructor needs and preferences. To download the source code, graphical assets, and a user guide to remix these virtual labs, visit the eCampus Ontario platform.

This project is made possible with funding by the Government of Ontario and through eCampusOntario’s support of the Virtual Learning Strategy. To learn more about the Virtual Learning Strategy visit:

eCampus Ontario

Substitution Virtual Laboratory

H5P Content

H5P Content

Created during summer 2023 with Victoria Livia Nalewajko (undergraduate student) in H5P Studio, available free for Ontario educators via eCampus Ontario

Screenshot of a drag and drop activity. The students are asked to place molecules in the correct layer inside a separatory funnel based on the written scenario given

Interactive Videos