When face-to-face classes are suspended, experimental lab work may need to be postponed or alternative activities created. The following ideas may help you modify your labs so that you can teach them fully online.
Consider altering lab activities. For instance, you may shift the focus from data collection to data analysis. Provide students with sample data, perhaps in the form in which it would have been collected, and ask students to complete the analysis as if they had collected the data themselves. For cases where observations are part of the process, consider recording yourself or a TA completing the lab and ask students to take the necessary measurements and observations from the video. Students can then complete the analysis and reflection as usual. Students can collaborate on analysis and reporting using email, Sakai, Zoom, or other collaborative tools.
Explore alternative forms of instruction. Online simulations, which allow students to interact virtually with the equipment and lab conditions, may offer valuable practice for students. Many online resources are available, including many that are free. A few that may be of interest include (but are not limited to):
- LabXchange. Offers a suite of lab simulations with assessments that focus on basic molecular biology techniques, as well as a wide variety of high-quality, interactive content, the ability to remix content into customized learning pathways, and private classes and discussion forums.
- PhET: Interactive Simulations for Science and Math. All simulations are free and cover topics including physics, chemistry, math, earth science, and biology.
- Physics Simulations. A free collection of physics simulations with changeable parameters and real-time animation.
- ACS: Virtual Chemistry and Simulations. A collection of chemistry simulations and virtual labs compiled by the American Chemical Society (ACS).
- Virtual Labs Project at Stanford. Online interactive media created and shared by Stanford, largely focused on human biology.
- HHMI BioInteractive. Videos and interactive activities provided by HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) focused on biology.
- Molecular Expressions: Virtual Microscopy. A collection of virtual microscopes with controls similar to those on physical microscopes.
- Phone apps such as “Oscilloscope” or “Speed Gun” that allow students to interact with instruments or lab setups.
Adapted from Princeton’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning