Students are introduced to the theories behind the practical by way of a pre-recorded lecture. Practical application of the theory is then presented in a five minute video of a lab based experiment created and edited on an i-pad using Adobe Sparks software. Students are issued with a data set to work with and are then quizzed on this in Canvas. For more basic data manipulation students are asked to reflect on the processes they used in an online discussion. For more complicated procedures (usually in later years of the course) students are given access to live sessions in which an instructor answers questions to small groups of 10 students.
The asynchronous aspects to courses means that students can work at times best suited to them, and also revisit materials as and when needed. This was outlined in student feedback. Several students felt that they understood procedures better from an online example than in a lab setting where one can fall behind if not paying close attention. The online labs also drastically reduced student engagement time, presenting a three hour lab in less than five minutes. Academics reported that materials were relatively easy to make using Adobe Sparks software. A distinct advantage of this software is that slides were limited to 30 seconds which encourages dynamic presentation.
Students miss out on the tangible aspect of handing lab equipment, although for those in the second year this was a minor limitation as they had been introduced to most of the equipment in previous face to face lab work.
A still taken from the online lab used to model procedure
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