How to Contribute a Learning Object to VIPEr

We are delighted that you want to share your inorganic teaching experience with the IONiC community! That's why we have built this site. This page will walk ­you through how to contribute your teaching materials, comments, reviews, and questions. It's not hard, but there are a couple of things that you need to know. If you have questions about any part of the process, please don't hesitate to contact the IONiC leadership council.

VIPEr is public
The whole point of VIPEr is to share materials, practices, and thinking to improve the teaching of inorganic chemistry. To that end, most material on the site is wide open to the public (one exception: problem sets are available only to bona fide instructors). For you, as a contributor, that means:

1. You must have the right to publish what you contribute.
When you contribute, you are implicitly verifying that you have the right to share the material that you are providing. You are free to share anything that you personally create, but you may need to get permission before using content created by others (such as figures from journal articles or textbooks). There are cases where you can legally use copyrighted materials in your classes under fair use provisions, but can't legally submit those materials here. Some help is available on our copyright information page.

2. You get to decide the terms under which you will share.
Even though you are posting your creation on a public website, as the author, you get to decide how your work may be used and shared. VIPEr lets you choose from several Creative Commons licenses to apply to your contribution. Again, there is more help on our copyright information page.

How your material fits into VIPEr
Content in VIPEr is in the form of learning objects. Most objects are smallish units of teaching materials focused on a specific topic; it's probably a good idea to start by contributing one small, simple object to get the hang of the process. As you submit the learning object, you will provide both content (by typing in text or uploading documents) and information about the object (appropriate course level, subdiscipline of inorganic chemistry, prerequisites, methods of assessment, etc.)

Before you submit
You'll need to be logged in to VIPEr; if you haven't already done so, create a VIPEr account. In order to create content you must have Faculty Privileges. If you do not yet have faculty privileges, you can request additional privileges from your profile page. Write us for help. Instructions for uploading your learning object follow. 

Upload your Learning Object onto VIPEr

Click here to see a video of this process.

1. Log-in to your account (with faculty privileges). Click on "Create Content" at the top of the webpage, and select the type of learning object that you wish to create. VIPEr currently supports 9 types of learning objects.

  • Collections
  • Five Slides About
  • In-Class Activity
  • Lab Experiment
  • Literature Discussion
  • Problem Set
  • Syllabus
  • Textbook
  • Web Resources and Apps

To make things easier for users, we have created a set of downloadable Google Drive and Word templates for each type of learning object that you may use to prepare your learning object offline.

If you are working with a co-author, you can add their name by typing into Additional Authors field and selecting the correct name.  Note that once a learning object is saved, all authors and additional authors will be able to edit the learning object.

2. What you will end up doing next depends on the type of object that you wish to create. As a result, some of the fields and steps described below may not apply.

Caution: If you navigate away from the Create Content page for any reason, you will LOSE your content! You can right-click or control-click (on a Mac) to open a link in a new tab and preserve your Create Content page. For information on how to save a draft of your learning object, see step 10 below.

3. Fields. All learning objects have text fields to fill out (e.g., Title, Description, Assessment). Those with a red asterisk are required. The text editor boxes in VIPEr will allow you to edit the HTML directly if you click on the "Source" icon.  

4. Categories (e.g., Subdiscipline, Topics Covered). These are keywords to guide users in applying your object. Since these are searchable, err on the side of selecting more categories that might be relevant. Place your cursor over or in the field to scroll down and see all of the options. By holding down <ctrl> on a PC or <command> on a Mac, multiple selections can be highlighted.

5. CC. Pick a Creative Commons License. There is a link to the CC website if you'd like to browse through the possibilities. We recommend "Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike", which means that people are free to use your stuff, as long as: (1) they say that it came from you, (2) they don't use it for commercial purposes, and (3) they don't re-issue it under a looser license than you used (in other words, someone can't re-issue your stuff and say it's OK to use it for commercial purposes).  

6. Attachments. To the right of the "File:" field, there is a "Browse" button. Use this to find the file that you wish to upload. You can upload the same documents that you use in your teaching—though it's a good idea to put attribution, date, and copyright information right into each document (we have found that the header of a Word document is a great place for this text), along these lines:

Created by [author, author affiliation, author email] and posted on VIPEr ( on [date/year], Copyright [name, year]. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons [name of license you choose] License. To view a copy of this license visit

Before you add your attachments, make sure that you double check them. A Word or rich text file is usually more useful to another faculty member if they'd like to modify your learning object. We would highly recommend the following file naming convention: LOtype_topic_year_filetype

LO type

  • 5SA  (5 slides about)
  • ICA  (in-class activity)
  • LAB  (lab experiment)
  • LD (literature discussion)
  • PS (problem set)
  • SYL  (syllabus)
  • WEB  (web resources)
  • 1FLO  (1-figure learning object)

topic = one or two keywords, or topic; related to the title of the LO

filetype = e.g. “solutions” or “questions” or “handouts” or leave blank

If you fill in "Description" in the Attachments section, the description is displayed when a user rolls the mouse over your attachment link. So, think about how to describe simply what the file contains.

For articles under copyright, rather than attaching a file, we ask that you link to the article through the doi (digital object identifier). Also see item 9. If you want to add a doi link to a textbox (instead of in a hyperlink field, as shown below) you can create a link to a url that contains the doi, like this:

To find out more information about including an attachment that displays a crystal structure, look at the forum discussion on this topic.

Important information about hosting videos. Screencasts and instructional videos are good web resources but have the potential for causing us bandwidth issues. If you have a video you want to put on VIPEr, please contact a member of the Leadership Council. We have created a YouTube channel, and we can help you upload the video and then link to it as a web resource.

6a. Faculty only attachments. Many learning object types give you the opportunity to upload "Faculty-only Files." The files you add to this section are visible only to registered and approved faculty (this includes some graduate students and post-docs who have requested faculty status). This section would be a good place to put answer keys to an activity. The "Problem Set" learning object type is only visible to registered and approved faculty. The maximum file size is 8 MB and currently (July 2014) allowed extensions are: rtf jpg jpeg gif png txt html doc xls pdf ppt pps odt ods odp zip tar log out chk chm pdb cif cmdf jmol cdx docx xlsx pptx.

7. Related Activities. This is to allow you to link other things on VIPEr that might be relevant. If your learning object is derived from another object, that would be a particularly good thing to link here (and the same goes for any modifications others may make of your object!). If you type in a keyword, choices will automatically be suggested from a search of all learning objects on VIPEr.

8. Evaluation. The purpose of this section is to put forward how you determine whether your students "get it."  In other words, use this section to show how you evaluate the effectiveness of the the students' learning or of the learning object. This might take the form of a key or rubric (for a homework problem), a test question that you use as a follow-up (for a class activity or demo), or the questions and grading rubric used for the report of a lab experiment.

9. Web resources. In this field you can enter either useful web resources or doi (digital object identifier) links. The doi is the best way to link to a journal article under copyright and can generally be found in the online Table of Contents entry for the article. There is, however, a specific format that must be used: "doi" must be lowercase, and there must not be a space between "doi:" and the number that follows (which is unfortunately how they're given on the ACS Pub site).

10. If you would like to "Save" a working draft of your learning object, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on the Save button. Be sure the radio button for "Draft" is selected instead of "Submit for Review." This saves your content for further editing later before submitting for review by the Leadership Council. To find your learning object again to continue editing, look under the "Create Content" tab on the left navigation bar, and choose "My Draft Content." You can then click on the title of your draft learning object and choose the "Edit" tab to continue working. At any point during the editing process, at the bottom of the page you can click Preview to see what the learning object will look like.

11. When you are ready to submit for review, select the "Submit for Review" radio button at the bottom of the page, then hit Save once more. Congratulations and thanks! You've just submitted a learning object!

What Happens Next?

Once you've submitted your learning object, it will be put into a queue for review. A member of the IONiC Leadership Council or a community reviewer will check your materials for relevance to the field of inorganic chemistry and potentially make suggestions for improvements to your submitted materials. This is our chance to help you with the submission process, so if a reviewer notices any problems, they will contact you by email with suggested changes. After this process, your learning object will be posted to VIPEr. Most learning objects will be freely available to both members of the IONiC Community and unregistered guests visiting VIPEr. Learning objects designated as "Problem Sets" and "Faculty Only Files" will be available only to registered members of the IONiC Community with faculty privileges (also available to graduate students and post-docs with appropriate credentials).

This document is a work in progress.  If anything is confusing or you have suggestions for improvements, please let us know.