Distance Learning

OSU Course Helps Teachers with Online Lab Science Classes

Oregon State University (OSU) is collaborating with a private partenr on a graduate-level course designed to help the students teach their own online laboratory science classes.

In the class, now offered online twice a year, students — most of whom teach online lab science classes themselves — work with a number of content delivery modes that include but are not limited to virtual labs, lab packs, kitchen science, data mining and field work, evaluating for themselves how the different modes work for the courses they teach.

eScience Labs, a company that provides customizable lab kits for online lab science courses at the university level, supplies lab kits, a set of hands-on experiments and curricular materials for the OSU courses titled "Instruments and Online Interactions in the Sciences." The lab kits can be customized so that the students in the course can use them in the courses they teach themselves.

Michael Lerner, a chemistry professor who teaches the course, acknowledges that many institutions and instructors are reluctant to even consider trying to teach online lab science classes because of the perceived challenges of conducting live experiments in remote locations.

However, Lerner said, "Distance methods can attain learning outcomes at least comparable to those for a conventional classroom or lab experience in the development of foundational lab concepts."

The course offered by OSU's Ecampus is available as a 10-week class during the fall semester and as a condensed 4-week course during the summer session.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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