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Lab activities

One of the biggest challenges of teaching online from anywhere is sustaining the lab components of classes, and realistically, lab spaces are hard to reproduce outside of physical space. 

Not every lab can be converted to online learning in the same way; it depends on the specific needs and purposes of that class. Some options:

Virtual Labs

Online resources and virtual tools might help replicate the experience of some labs or parts of labs (for example, virtual dissection, night sky apps, video demonstrations of labs, simulations).

Finding the right lab for your course might take a bit of legwork. Labs and simulations vary widely by discipline, but check with your textbook publisher, or sites such as Merlot for materials that might help replace parts of your lab. This Dartmouth resource offers a list of resources for learning laboratory techniques, the ASBMB offers resources for biochem, and this Chronicle of Higher Education article on "How to Quickly (and Safely) Move a Lab Course Online" offers several links to simulation sites.

Lab Kits

For certain non-dangerous experiments, you might be able to find a suitable lab kit. Several companies offer kits which can be mailed to students for them to complete at home--see this Chronicle of Higher Education article on "How to Quickly (and Safely) Move a Lab Course Online."

Keep in mind that kits can often be expensive, and students may not have access to good spaces to conduct an experiment. Be sure to give students plenty of time to order their kit, and to be sure that the experiment justifies the extra time and expense. 

Data Analysis

In cases where the lab includes both collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze. This approach is not as comprehensive as having students collect and analyze their own data, but it might keep them engaged with parts of the lab experience. 

Rethink based on learning objectives

While this won't work for every class, in some cases you might find that you're able to meet learning objectives such as student collaboration or quantitative analysis without having a lab component. "How to Rethink Lab Classes," from Inside Higher Ed, offers five possible learning objectives that are easily more easily translated online, including learning to propose new experiments and doing a literature review.