Tips for Transitioning a Health Science Lab to Remote Learning

May 30, 2021

Health Science labs present a unique challenge when it comes to remote learning. In general, health science courses require a lot of memorization, which can be daunting to many students. Hands-on labs have traditionally been a way to use terms in real-life applications and break up classes that would otherwise be hours of uninterrupted lecture. 


You may be understandably concerned about keeping students’ attention when transitioning lab work online. In fact, a survey of over 15,000 undergraduate students showed that only 16.5% of the students intending to apply for medical school had completed the coursework required to do so. 


However, while online labs may not have the same physicality as in-person labs, they can be just as interactive for students with the added benefit of being replayable later. 


Read on for tips on how to move a science lab course online. 


Emphasize the Planning Stage of Course Creation

Every lab course moving to remote learning will need to be adapted a on a case-by-case basis, which puts a significant strain on instructors. Still, its crucial to avoid the temptation to rush through this step. Carefully consider which modalities will work best for each learning objective. Some class discussions may be best done in a forum format, while others will work better as a video call. 


The upside to planning ahead is that, because of remote learning’s many instruction options, you may find yourself spending less time actively speaking during class time. Once a lecture is recorded, it’s always available for future classes. 


Avoid Technical Issues

Part of the challenge of moving lab work online is the work that comes with ensuring that every student has access to the material. 


Technical issues are bound to occur when dozens or even hundreds of students need to access material from the web. Most instructors aren’t trained IT specialists, but this won’t stop students from bombarding you with questions about their specific connection issues. 


That’s why it’s important to use reliable resources that won’t crash. During the planning phase, prioritize sites that come with active IT support. Also make sure you get to know the IT resources available at your university and introduce them to your students. 


Spend More Time on Analysis

An advantage to remote lab work is that it often leaves more class time for analysis. With no beakers to rinse out, students can process an experiment’s results immediately. After students have completed a lab online, have them present on the experiment and analyze the results. 


Continually Improve Your Class Experience

Frequently ask students for feedback on how online lab resources are working for them, and make adjustments accordingly. Whereas in-person classes are often set in stone, remote lab courses can be altered on the fly. 


Invest in Technology Solutions

Online learning does not have to be all about reading articles or passively watching a video lecture. Make your remote lab more engaging with the following technology solutions:


3D models 

Particularly for anatomy and physiology labs, 3D models can bring a concept to life. Seeing a beating model heart in motion is simply more captivating than a textbook diagram. As a plus, 3D models can be viewed as many times as students need and allow for zooming and maneuvering that would be impossible during a dissection. 


In-depth videos 

In-depth videos that go through an experiment step by step are invaluable for lab work online. These videos help get students familiar with different lab setups and equipment.


Videos with interactive modules

In addition to regular videos, videos that pause to ask students questions help them them retain information by making them interact with the material just covered.


Multimedia Lectures 

Lectures are infamous for boring students, but multimedia lectures as a part of a remote lab course can be much more engaging. High-quality illustrations and tables shown at the right time can help students apply information and cement their knowledge. By combining visual and auditory stimulation, these multimedia lectures can engage students in a way that the average lecture can’t. 


Self-Test Quizzes

Self-test quizzes are simple add-ons to an online course environment that help students judge how well they are grasping information and when they need to come to you with additional questions. Bonus: they can be graded automatically.


Final Thoughts

The transition from an in-person health science lab to an online lab course can be daunting. Here at Caduceus International Publishing, we’re dedicated to creating affordable and quality education. We offer customized online lab courses designed to engage students. Courses come with built-in proctoring and IT support for you and your students. Contact us today to learn more. 

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