The Online Lab Conundrum

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

You have been tasked with developing an online lab, and your instructional team has never done this before. Your director wants some information fast! What do you do? This educate and reflect session will help you seek out, find, and share some relevant information and solutions for this online lab conundrum!


Melissa is the Director of the Office of Digital Learning for the Eberly College of Science, supporting the online course portfolio for the World Campus, engaging faculty to transform their teaching, and helping students learn. Melissa has an M.Ed in Learning, Design, and Technology, and has been working in the field for over 13 years. When she is not blazing a trail on social media, she manages a local adult baseball team, spoils her basset, attempts to quilt, and is a fervent supporter of the #Whole30. She also is constantly devouring books in her pursuit of happiness, creativity, and lifelong learning.

Extended Abstract

Online labs are the nemesis of online science degrees. Just when you think you can assemble a fully online degree, someone asks, "What are you going to do with your online labs?" A range of tools exist, which may include virtual labs, simulations, hands-on kits, and probeware, to name a few, however, there is no one-stop-shop for a cut-and-dried online lab solution. What do we do?!

This session will focus on what we know, what we need to know, and how we might go about doing it by engaging participants in conversations around their current experiences with online labs. Our hope is to share our various challenges (and insights) with the group to curate a sort of online lab toolkit that participants will be able to refer to as they move into the realm of online labs.

Participants will come away with an increased appreciation of the different types of online labs, challenges faced by various stakeholders, and different considerations for implementing online labs. Hopefully, participants will become active members in a community around online labs.

At the end of the session, participants should be able to:

  • define various types of online labs
  • discuss real and potential roadblocks for online labs
  • describe goals and outcomes for online labs
  • identify potential resources for online labs


  • 10 minutes – introduction and overview
  • 7 minutes – roadblocks
  • 7 minutes – desired goals/outcomes
  • 7 minutes – sharing of resources
  • 5 minutes – reflection
  • 11 minutes – sharing/group discussion

Who do you envision as the primary audience types who would get the most out of this session and why do you believe they will benefit?

  • Participants who are new to online labs will certainly benefit, but more experienced folks will also benefit by being the experts in the room and helping folks along. Every time an online lab conversation arises, there are always people who have things to contribute and there are always new things to learn.

What activities, take-aways, and/or activities will your workshop participants engage in that make your workshop unique, innovative, and relevant to the OLC Innovate 2019 themes and track you have selected?

  • The session will help connect online lab novices with those with more experience. The hope is that many resources will be shared and new perspectives will be gained. Online labs are not a “one-size fits all” solution.

What materials are required for the presenters, and what materials are required of those in attendance? This must be clearly outlined within the proposal submission.

  • A willingness to share and an openness to diverse opinions.