Online Biology Labs: Yes We Can!
Concurrent Session 3
We will explore the promise and prospects for effective, free or low cost online college life science labs. Many institutions are now offering fully online life science classes with labs. Can the lab portions of these classes be truly effective? Bring questions, ideas, resources, or curiosity to this conversation.
Recent years have seen a rapid expansion of fully online biology (and other life science) courses at colleges and universities. For example, the Chancellor of the California Community College system (the largest higher education system in the world) identified online offerings as a central “pillar” to help maintain financial health and extend the accessibility of higher education.
The challenge of creating online labs has engaged faculty and instructional designers. Most of the focus has been on non-majors biology courses, where there is a greater potential for labs that do not require equipment, dangerous reagents, or sophisticated lab techniques. Online labs must be substantially equivalent to the on campus labs students traditionally experience in biology courses. A number of companies have produced support materials to assist in this endeavor, including virtual labs, interactive lab demonstrations and simulations, digital lab notebooks, and lab kits.
The big questions include:
- Can online labs provide an excellent lab experience for biology students.
- Can effective online biology labs be offered that are free or low cost?
- If these goals are possible, what are the best strategies to achieve these goals?
In this conversation, we will explore the promise and prospects for effective, free or low cost online college labs in life science courses.
We will explore online activities that can engage students working online in inquiry based lab experiences? Bring your questions, ideas, resources, or curiosity to this conversation.