Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review : Teaching Lab Science Courses Online

Title : Teaching Lab Science Courses Online

Author : Linda Jeschofnig and Peter Jeschofnig

Publisher : Jossey-Bass

ISBN : 978-0-470-60704-6

Learning science includes laboratory experience as a main ingredient for complete understanding of the subject, be it the dissection of the animals to see the viscera or adding the chemicals to see the reaction taking place under controlled environment or some physical phenomenon being carried out with specific equipments. In order to satisfy this criteria, the conventional school of thought propounds face- to-face learning as the only method of teaching and learning science. But with changing times when technology has influenced and literally revolutionized almost all patterns of thinking, how can this field be left untouched. As per the Department of Education Study, the science illiteracy is on the rise in America and to control this trend, making science experiments available to more and more people who are interested in taking up these courses should be made more easier. And making the same available online means increasing the reach by manifolds.

The authors of 'Teaching Lab Science Courses Online' have extensively covered all facets of this topic beginning with - the need to teach online, the comparison : online teaching vs face to face teaching, the specified tools and techniques helpful in this cause, the effectiveness and pitfalls of this mode of teaching, how to incorporate academic integrity in online science courses and the methods to incorporate online lab assignments, are some of these.

More and more instructors who have actually taught online believe that the commercially available lab-kits to be used at home are very much feasible and highly effective. This opening up of education offers opportunities to many people who cannot spare time to go to the campuses or the people who want to continue education in their convenient time. Not just that the research shows that the student-instructor interaction is much more purposeful and meaningful in online courses. And the social networking sites are easily providing the forums through which the fellow students can interact too.

The authors discuss the practicality of pre-packaged kits for the remote students and these would require instructors working closely with the companies manufacturing such kits, so that the hazard levels are kept under stricter checks while keeping the cost component minimal too so that the affordability does not become an issue.

Linda and Peter - the authors of this book are retired college professors who have been recognized as passionate pioneers in the field of distance science education. This book explores the options available to the students who are looking for valid science laboratory experiences. The online education is reality of new age and is here to stay in a big way.

This book offers a great help to the instructors who want to take their courses online, by walking them through the requirements in terms of appropriate software, modification in the course material, incorporation of 'use-at-home' lab kits, selection of lab options and many more informative guidelines. The authors address the potential obstacles while following this path and the possible remedial options to overcome the same thereby making the reach of education wider and broader with no boundaries and limitations whatsoever.

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