As remote learning continues due to the Coronavirus pandemic, teaching practical subjects, such as science, is becoming challenging for educators. However, not being able to test, explore, and experiment firsthand has led to the inception of new teaching methods. Nonetheless, finding the best remote learning materials to facilitate remote work remains a big challenge for teachers. That said, follow this guide to plan your STEM education activities.
Just like physical learning, begin by revisiting your class learning objectives, including what students accomplished before schools were closed. You will be lucky if your students had already had experience with some lab techniques, as you can easily build from these experiences as you adjust your assessment tasks. However, ensure that you adjust your student learning objectives to suit the change in the learning environment.
Plan Your Remote Sessions
Organize a pre-lab instruction session where you can explain fundamental techniques and facts to students before the experiments. This can be done through Zoom, just as a standard face-to-face class would operate. During this session, share instruction manuals with your students so that they can read further as they prepare for the actual practical session.
For introductory lab sessions, you can record short demos demonstrating various techniques that students are expected to perform or demonstrate these techniques during the live stream. Alternatively, you can share links to relevant YouTube videos where students can watch after that.
Most STEM topics require hands-on trials for students to understand better. For this, take advantage of the following supporting resources;
ChemCollective is a website that packs several learning resources, including interactive virtual lab practicals. This provides a great opportunity for students to solve problems virtually using materials they would use in a typical wet-lab session. This platform is highly reliable, as it runs in a browser and doesn’t require an extra software download to operate. It is best for all chemistry practicals, primarily general chemistry.
- Journal of Visualized Experiments
This platform has extensive videos that provide a good visual background for students who want to learn basic scientific concepts. It is a good platform that teachers can use to simulate experiments and data analysis. It is suitable for biology, medicine, and bioengineering experiments.
MerlotMerlot is a curated platform with a wide collection of learning resources from various disciplines created by institutions and instructors worldwide. Given its large number of online resources, make use of the search tool to find your topic of interest. Filter your search results using the audience and material type options.
LabXchange is another free online learning platform that stocks high-quality content for digital learning. It contains interactive lab simulations that enable students to mimic physical wet-lab experiences. The system can be accessed directly from a browser, making it easy to access and use. LabXchange is best for biology, chemistry, and physics courses.
- The Coder School
Students who would like to expound their basic STEM skills, especially in coding, can benefit from this online coding platform. The Coder School provides free trial classes, and students can access a wide range of learning materials, enabling them to enrich their coding skills. This is the best way of introducing students to beginner programming languages and other fundamentals of coding. The school also provides online coding bootcamps for those who want to advance their coding skills.
The Bottom Line
Besides finding the right resources, you should consider the availability and accessibility of remote learning materials. Note that students require laptops, internet connectivity, and access to the required learning software to complete their learning objectives. Also, allow your students to take control of the learning process. Students can learn more if they become more involved in the learning activity.