PROVIDING EFFECTIVE TEACHING LABORATORIES AT AN OPEN UNIVERSITY
Download print version Dec 15 2017 Authors: Dietmar Kennepohl
DOI: 10.1615/IntJInnovOnlineEdu.2017021513

As more science courses in higher education are being redesigned to move online, there is growing interest in effectively handling required practical components such as teaching laboratories and field work. Athabasca University (AU) is an open university and has been delivering science laboratories at a distance for over four decades. This paper reviews the various methods employed at AU to provide high quality laboratory experiences to students in science courses using a variety of delivery modes such as face-to-face, homestudy kits, virtual simulations, mobile devices for fieldwork/clinic, and remote controlled laboratories. Although the selection of an individual delivery mode is driven by both practicality and need to create an effective learning environment, the author also encourages experimentation with blending of modes to potentially enhance learning in the laboratory. Major emerging trends such as new technologies, access to ubiquitous information, and a move to open learning will certainly shape future innovations in laboratory design for online courses. So while currently still on the horizon, novel components like open educational resources (OER), learning analytics, citizen science, and connection to dispersed knowledge networks are imminent for the laboratory of the twenty-first century.

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