Labs in an online environment will look quite different than in-person labs. However, the same learning outcomes can often be achieved online.
Considerations as you plan to address lab activities:
- Take part of the lab online: Many lab activities require students to become familiar with certain procedures, and only physical practice of those processes will do. In such cases, consider if there are other parts of the lab experience you could take online (for example, video demonstrations of techniques, online simulations, analysis of data, other pre- or post-lab work), and save the physical practice parts of the labs for in-person.
- Investigate virtual labs: Online resources and virtual tools might help replicate the experience of some labs (for example, virtual dissection, night sky apps, video demonstrations of labs, simulations). Those vary widely by discipline, but your campus teaching and learning center may be able to advise on suggested tools.
- Provide raw data for analysis: In cases where the lab includes both collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze. This approach is not as comprehensive as having students collect and analyze their own data, but it might keep them engaged with parts of the lab experience.
- Explore alternate software access: Some labs require access to specialized software that students cannot install on their own computers. For advice on suggested alternative software, contact your campus teaching and learning center.
- Increase interaction in other ways: Sometimes labs are more about having time for direct student interaction, so consider other ways to encourage communication and collaboration among your students.