4 Reasons Why The “New Reality” Calls for (some) Digital in Your Lab…
The academic fallout of the pandemic is far from over. Even while the fall semester is underway, many instructors are left wondering if they’ve managed to pull together a workable, effective, durable lab experience for their students in this environment. As instructors continue to tinker with the mix, here are some reasons to keep digital in play.
Reason #1 – We’re Not in the Clear Yet
An unfortunate reality is that the pandemic is not in the rearview mirror, so for those instructors who are meeting in person with their students there remains the possibility of having to return to online instruction. To potentially avoid an interruption, lab instructors may want to consider investing time now in a platform that can supplement their face-to-face time with the bonus of being able to quickly accommodate partial or full online delivery if necessary. And you don’t have to wait until circumstances force you online to make use of it. While you are still meeting in person you can use the digital pre-lab prep, post-lab review, assessment component—any combination that works for you. And if circumstances change, you can tweak your in-person labs to work virtually.
Reason #2 – The Cost of Covid
Education will be dealing with the repercussions of COVID for years. From recovery learning to budget shortfalls, successful schools will be the ones that adapt swiftly to the fallout. A challenge that some institutions are currently facing or may soon experience:
- Fewer instructors, including teaching assistants
- Instructors pulled in many different directions
- Overall budget reductions
- Plans delayed on the construction of new lab space
Because of these challenges, a return to “as it was before the pandemic” can be extremely difficult. Additional agents for change may also include:
- The need to increase lab enrollment
- The digital investment your school has already made
- The importance of being viewed as a digital forward school
Reason #3 – The Student Experience Has Changed
Student demand for the type of learning environment that works for their lifestyle has never been stronger. What we’ve seen, on a regular basis, is that more and more students are comfortable learning online and in fact expect to access some of their material digitally. Some of this was already in play pre-COVID, for instance upper-level courses in many schools were already being taught digitally. COVID merely enlarged the digital fold, reaching down to many lower-level courses. Students have seen for themselves they don’t need to be on campus or in a classroom to learn. At home or in a dorm, or wherever they can access a computer and reliable broadband works just fine. A host of reasons make digital learning attractive to them such as convenience, the freedom to learn on their own schedule, living at home and saving on R&B. This is the new reality. Demand for digital access to materials is likely to grow, and schools will need to address it.
Reason #4 – Efficiency Saves Money
Lab time is expensive! Studies show that labs cost 15 times more than lecture class when everything is factored in. Some schools were at the limit of their lab space prior to COVID. If they were planning to build more labs, COVID probably delayed those plans. With lab space at a premium, the focus becomes how to improve lab efficiency. That should include more focused lab time, time in lab spent performing the lab and not on prep. Prepping online by using a combination of print, video, audio, and interactive assessments provides a full sensory experience for students, reinforces learning, and prepares students for tackling their labs. Going this route should allow administrators to schedule more labs, which equals more students, which is a goal of most schools. Another tool in the quest for more efficient labs is the reduction in grading time. If done properly, auto grading quizzes and/or tests translates to less time and people resources needed.
What Some Digital in a Lab Setting Can Do
Overall, the use of digital in lab settings, whether a little or a lot, can and should deliver a comprehensive lab experience. In addition to efficiency, digital prep, assessment, and study can offer a new level of interactivity, lead to more uniform lab sections, and provide instructors with real-time actionable course metrics.
Yes, it is the start of the 2021-22 Academic Year, but we all know that your work planning, prepping, and executing your schedule is never completed. It’s always a work in progress. When thinking about the role digital can play in your students’ lab experience, digital options are key and don’t require you to be a digital expert. Look for a publisher who steers clear of add-on costs, understands your goals, how much digital you are comfortable with and where you want to incorporate it, and sticks with you through the entire process and beyond.
Our LabRight Platform Is a Great Solution For Labs
LabRight, an all-in-one seamless digital platform, is ideal because it is customizable and offers simple, lab-specific digital tools. We set it all up for you and provide training. LabRight turns the challenges you’re facing into new teaching and learning opportunities. LabRight is so flexible it can be used for face-to-face, virtual or hybrid labs, and is ideal for pre-, in- or post-lab work.
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