EDTL Approach: Considerations for Lab-based Subjects

EDTL Approach: Lab-based Subjects

Resources to support effective remote teaching of lab-based modules and programmes

Moving labs to the online environment is proving to be an extremely difficult exercise in the short term. Some disciplines are more suited to temporary remedies than others. Timeframe and budget are the two main limitations.

These case studies and resources are indicative of measures available to transition labs from face-to-face to fully or partly online. However, preferred options such as Virtual Labs and Simulations are costly & are more suited to long-term planning. In the short-term, compromise to a more blended approach will be adopted by most.

Use of multimedia materials and tools, especially video, are extremely effective for moving pre and post lab work online, optimising time spent in actual labs.







1. Case Studies

Croker, K., Andersson, H., Lush, D., Prince, R., & Gomez, S. (2010). Enhancing the student experience of laboratory practicals through digital video guides. Bioscience education16(1), 1-13. This paper is old but still mostly accurate and very topical in current times where Labs need to find ways to move preparatory materials online & to make best use of actual Lab time. [Published paper]

iLabs: Online access to remote laboratories (Youtube video) iLabs provided excellent opportunities for students to engage remotely with scientific equipment from other Universities. This case study is also referenced in (Hernaìndez-de Meneìndez et al, 2019), below.

Medicles: User generated online medical tutorials – Case study (YouTube video) Student tutorials designed and created by students to help other students

Salmerón-Manzano, E., & Manzano-Agugliaro, F. (2018). The higher education sustainability through virtual laboratories: The Spanish university as case of study. Sustainability, 10(11), 4040. (The objective of this work is to determine which are the main institutions and research trends in relation to virtual laboratories.) [Open access paper]

Perales, M., Pedraza, L., & Moreno-Ger, P. (2019, April). Work-In-Progress: Improving Online Higher Education with Virtual and Remote Labs. In 2019 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) (pp. 1136-1139). IEEE. (This paper describes an ongoing educational innovation project focused of improving the practical education of engineering students, in the context of a purely online education model. ) [Subscription required]

Hernández-de-Menéndez, M., Guevara, A. V., & Morales-Menendez, R. (2019). Virtual reality laboratories: a review of experiences. International Journal on Interactive Design and Manufacturing (IJIDeM), 13(3), 947-966. (In this paper, various types of university laboratories around the world are described to present the updated state-of-the-art. Additionally, a discussion regarding the educational effectiveness of each laboratory format is discussed.) [Subscription required]

Paxinou, E., Panagiotakopoulos, C. T., Karatrantou, A., Kalles, D., & Sgourou, A. (2020). Implementation and Evaluation of a Three‐Dimensional Virtual Reality Biology Lab versus Conventional Didactic Practices in Lab Experimenting with the Photonic Microscope. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 48(1), 21-27. (This study presents the integration of three different teaching scenarios by the use of the three-dimensional virtual reality educational tool Onlabs, versus more traditional didactic practices. ) [Free access paper]


2. Framework Resources

Practical Engineering Education: A blog by the Multidisciplinary Engineering Education team, based in the Diamond at the University of Sheffield, UK – presenting work in practical engineering education. This blog shares case studies, opinions and highlights of pedagogical and technical research.

Guidance for creating balanced multimedia materials: Richard E. Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia [New York University, taken from Mayer’s Book Multimedia Learning]

Lab/Simulation Resources: A listing of multi-disciplinary  resources in relation to example labs/simulations (Google Doc).

BioInteractive Labs: 6 virtual labs, each virtual lab contains resources for instructors, along with an interactive quiz.

Simulations and Virtual Labs: links to both simulation and virtual lab OER resources across multi-disciplines

Virtual Chemistry Lab: online simulation of a Chemistry Lab, provided by the ChemCollective.

3. Exemplars – Instructional/Safety Videos

These Exemplar Videos may help to plan and design similar pre- or post-Lab safety/instructional and tutorial materials. The success of such items can vary dependent upon how they are implemented in a module and whether mandatory quizzes are associated with the resource.

Pilot-Scale Distillation Experiment

Playlist of Safety and Laboratory Tutorial videos from Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. Offered as part of the Chem-E project (http://cheme.ie), funded by the National Forum for teaching and learning (http://www.teachingandlearning.ie)

Example of a safety video aimed at undergraduate students, to make them aware of hazards in the laboratory, associated risks and preventative measures.

A good example of how to make a comprehensive and coherent Safety/Instructional video with judicious use of live action video. Michael Seery explains his approach to moving a (physical) chemistry lab online in this blog post.

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