Online: Trending Now

Unique biweekly insights and news review
from Ray Schroeder, Director of the National Council for Online Education

Virtual Labs Coming of Age

Online: Trending Now #144

Have we finally arrived at a point where we can effectively teach laboratory classes online?

Recently, the University of Pennsylvania announced that they will launch a baccalaureate degree at scale online next fall. They are not the only ones to offer entire undergraduate degrees online, but they are the first from the Ivy League. There is a surfeit of master’s degrees online from a wide variety of institutions. So, why have the baccalaureates lagged behind? 

There are a number of factors. Of course the baccalaureate commonly requires 120 or more credit hours, while the master’s commonly requires 36 to 48 credit hours. The shorter degrees are easier to mount because they require fewer courses, if for no other reason. The challenges of accessing computer labs for coding and desktop software in general has been tackled by a wide array of virtual desktop solutions. However, the deeper challenge has been to find a way to effectively offer the science laboratories that are part of most general education core curricula. How can chemistry, biology, physics and related sciences be effectively offered without laboratories?

Solutions have been pursued through the use of “kitchen” labs and lab kits sent to students. These offer students the opportunity to perform non-dangerous experiments in their own homes, often using chemicals that are readily available at groceries. It can be useful, particularly for general education, non-science major students. But, there is a growing move toward alternatives that provide more realistic experiences for those who are pursuing STEM degrees. These alternatives include remote access labs and virtual labs and simulations. These can be seen as part of the continuum of advancements to provide more robust AI-enhanced, interactive resources to distant students.

Drexel’s Virtually Inspired site points to a handful of outstanding virtual labs at universities around the world. Most notable are those that use a smart phone app to conduct the experience, rather than requiring a larger machine and monitor. 

Perhaps the use of virtual labs at this point in 2018 is best as an introduction to lab work, rather than advanced experimentation as is suggested in this EdSurge article

While we may not be all of the way there in fully replicating laboratories in virtual and augmented environments, it is still impressive to view how Case Western Reserve University Medical School is implementing the hololens to augment some of their instruction and practice. 

As business and industry continue to implement virtual and augmented tools to replace “wet” labs and approaches, the move to distant virtual labs will accelerate. Stay tuned! 

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practicesContinuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning  – no advertising, no spam!

Best,

Ray Schroeder, Founding Director
National Council for Online Education

 

Ray Schroeder 2016 Summit for Online Leadership

Ray Schroeder is Professor Emeritus, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and Senior Fellow at UPCEA. Each year, Ray publishes and presents nationally on emerging topics in online and technology-enhanced learning. Ray’s social media publications daily reach more than 12,000 professionals. He is the inaugural recipient of the A. Frank Mayadas Online Leadership Award, recipient of the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame Award, and the American Journal of Distance Education/University of Wisconsin Wedemeyer Excellence in Distance Education Award 2016.

Other UPCEA Updates + Blogs

Creeping Out Generation Z

The next generation of adult learners, Generation Z (those currently between the ages of 13 and 23) and young Millennials (roughly 24 to 30), are very different from other generations.  They research providers more, as well as being more likely to abandon shopping carts.[i]  They get creeped out by our efforts to extract too much…

Read More

UPCEA Releases Competency Statements for Professional, Continuing, and Online Practitioners

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2020 – UPCEA, the leader in professional, continuing, and online education, is pleased to announce the release of the association’s Competency and Attribute Statements for Professional, Continuing, and Online Practitioners.  The competency and attribute statements consist of the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions required of Professional, Continuing, and Online (PCO) Education practitioners,…

Read More

UPCEA Announces 2020 Association Award Recipients

10 Individuals and 6 Programs Receive Association’s Highest Honors WASHINGTON, February 10, 2020 – UPCEA, the leader in professional, continuing, and online education, has announced the recipients of the 2020 Association Awards. The UPCEA Association Awards program includes recognition of both individual and institutional achievement across the UPCEA membership. Since 1953, UPCEA has recognized its…

Read More

UPCEA Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design Award Recipient Announced

Inaugural award bestowed at 2020 Summit for Online Leadership and Administration WASHINGTON, February 5, 2020 – UPCEA, the leader in professional, continuing, and online education, has announced the 2020 Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design Award recipient, Penny Ralston-Berg of the Pennsylvania State University. The Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design Award recognizes outstanding service…

Read More

Call for Talent: UPCEA Online Professional Development

UPCEA is seeking talented collaborators for its new online Professional Development initiative, which will feature certificate programs in the field of professional, continuing, and online education. This is an opportunity to play a pioneering role in the launch of this exciting effort. Specifically, UPCEA is sourcing talent to join our learning community in the following…

Read More

Policy Matters | House Votes to Overturn Department of Education’s Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule (January 2020)

Welcome to the January edition of Policy Matters. Each issue has the latest updates and actionable items in public policy for adult and nontraditional education stakeholders. Major Update House Votes to Overturn Department of Education’s Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule Legislators voted to approve a Congressional Review Act resolution to block the recent Department of Education…

Read More

Whether you need benchmarking studies, or market research for a new program, UPCEA Consulting is the right choice.

We know you. We know the challenges you face and we have the solutions you need. We speak your language and have been serving leaders like you for more than 100 years. UPCEA consultants are current or former continuing and online higher education professionals who are experts in the industry—put our expertise to work for you.


UPCEA is dedicated to advancing quality online learning at the institutional level. UPCEA is uniquely focused on excellence at the highest levels – leadership, administration, strategy – applying a macro lens to the online teaching and learning enterprise. Its engaged members include the stewards of online learning at most of the leading universities in the nation.

We offers a variety of custom research options through a variable pricing model.


Click here to learn more.

The Nation's Top Universities Choose UPCEA Consulting

Informed decisions. Ideas that work. The data you need. Trusted by the top universities in the nation.