This fall, UAF’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry debuted its asynchronous online organic chemistry series with labs. There’s a reason this has not been done before: It requires an enormous amount of planning. But we’re doing it, and with some of the wisdom shared here, you might think about taking your lab course completely online as well.
A strong laboratory component is at the heart of any science program, but it is also one of the most challenging features to do effectively at a distance. As more science courses in higher education are being redesigned to move online, there is growing interest in successfully handling required practical components such as teaching laboratories and field work.
There are many choices to consider when selecting a particular approach to designing online labs. In this second part of our four-part series on online STEM lab courses, we’re going to take a look at four main categories of online lab experiences and consider their respective strengths and weaknesses. When making design decisions for your online labs, return to and refocus on your intended objectives before tackling the question of how to get there.
Online education has come a long way. The days of online courses that mirrored self-paced correspondence courses of old are thankfully behind us. Quality, instructor-led online courses regularly feature-rich interaction, hands-on active learning, and engaging media content. However, STEM lab courses are still often seen as particularly challenging to develop for online delivery. In this first of a four-part series addressing online STEM lab courses, we’re going to address the question of why one might want to explore online modalities.
As we discover, test and improve methods of online teaching, one category of courses, the science laboratory based class, has resisted many efforts to bring lab units to the online realm. But this need not be the case. There are several models, methods and ready made solutions available to instructors or departments who are contemplating this transition. In this Teaching Tip, we cover the range of options available.
Illustration: University of Munich Remotely Controlled Lab on Millikan’s Experiment web interface.