Five Key Components to Successful and Engaging Online Labs

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session Community College

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Ever wondered what it takes to create a dynamic and engaging online science laboratory?  Join us as we identify the five key components found in successful online science labs and discuss how we can incorporate them into our own online lab courses.


Jennifer L. Lewis is a physical sciences instructor and former online teaching fellow at Madison Area Technical College. She has a decade of experience designing and teaching online lab courses, including geology, historical geology and physical geography.

Extended Abstract

When we consider the range of online courses available to students today, one thing that stands out is the limited number of lab courses being offered in the online format.  For various reasons, including engagement concerns and material needs, online lab courses are often the last courses to be considered for the online format.  The goal of this session is to confront this antiquated mindset to illustrate the value online science lab courses provide to today’s student and to present a plan for developing and facilitating online science lab courses.  


The 30-minute presentation will identify the five key components found in successful and highly engaging online lab courses.  Examples will be taken from a wide suite of online science courses offered at a two-year community college, including earth science and biology lab courses.  Attendees will see specific examples of how the key components are incorporated into different online science labs and how each component creates an environment that promotes the understanding of science and the students’ success.


Following the 30-minute presentation, attendees will be asked to reflect on the science lab courses they design, teach or would like to design and teach and identify concrete ways they can incorporate the five key components into those online labs.  Attendees will share their plans to utilize the information from the presentation with the group and will have time during the Q&A to discuss as a group, pose follow up questions to the presenter and ultimately leave the session with an action plan to create and facilitate engaging online labs.