1. Kemi Jona
  2. Director, Office of STEM Education Partnerships; Research Professor, Learning Sciences and Computer Science
  4. Northwestern University
  1. Sachin Pradhan
  2. Software Developer
  4. Northwestern University
  1. Ashley Walter
  2. Curriculum Developer
  4. Northwestern University

Transforming High School Science via Remote Online Labs

NSF Awards: 1216389, 0753324, 0938075, 1121262

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Undergraduate

Remote online labs, or iLabs, are experimental equipment that can be accessed through the Internet, allowing students and educators to carry out real experiments from anywhere at any time. This makes science labs more real, more engaging, and more accessible to students.

Through using remote labs, students are able to access high-end equipment not typically available in the K-12 classroom because of high cost or safety concerns. Experiments can be completed on any device with an Internet connection, allowing students to design and run experiments on their own time and at their own pace. Remote labs are not simulations, and return real data with naturally occurring variability from run to run. These advantages, combined with the time savings afforded by eliminating the need to set or clean up the lab space, support in-depth classroom discussions of important scientific concepts such as sample size, experimental design, the reproducibility of experiments, data analysis, and more.

Dr. Kemi Jona of Northwestern University has led the development of a new user platform that improves the remote labs experience for both educators and students – ilabstudio.org. The features included in the new user platform were developed through an iterative design process involving both teachers and students. This allowed developers to identify and address common challenges that prevent the adoption of online labs, to improve the pedagogical value of lab investigations, and to reduce the administrative overhead associated with them. This may ultimately increase adoption rates for online lab platforms while increasing the pedagogical benefits to students.

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