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Teaching STEM labs online

In the first meeting of the Spring 2020 STEM faculty interest group, we had moved to emergency online teaching after the COVID crisis began. After 6 weeks of online teaching, we met on April 28 and discussed the following key questions. Here are some of the thoughts shared by the participants:

What are the goals for a STEM lab in general (online or otherwise)?

We want students to be able to

  • formulate hypotheses
  • gather data
  • draw conclusions
  • analyze data
  • think like a scientist

What has worked well in your online labs over the past month? What activities accomplish the goals of a lab experience?

What problems or challenges are you experiencing in delivering effective lab experiences?​

  • Students do not have access to a lab manual (a good reason to shift to online OERs or create your own)
  • Students cannot show up to synchronous sessions (for a variety of reasons)
  • Students have trouble understanding directions and cannot easily ask questions if asynchronous
  • Finding or creating quality resources is time-consuming

Next session:

  • Come prepared to share an online lab activity that has worked well in your class
  • We’ll discuss creating a repository for sharing resources more broadly

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