|EPA GULF BREEZE LABORATORY, THE MICRO-BIOLOGY LAB. TAKING A BACTERIA COLONY COUNT - NARA - 546274 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The online tools are only as useful as the assignments - the lecture before its use and the template for the lab report is just as important as the online tool. The online tools are simple but the assignments are complex.
Simulations are particularly useful for teaching evolution.
Paul discussed the "flipped lab" model - the students meet in a lab with an assistant and go back to the classroom to discuss what happened in the lab. The flipped lab model allows students to go home, run different sets of data and then bring the data back to the class to compare in groups.
The instructional design piece is not in the online tools but in the assignment development and built-in support. The students will need extensive introductory materials for these simulations. Students need a solid template for a lab report and a detailed rubric to let them know what should be included in the report. All of this really underscores the importance of the guidance whether direct or indirect of the instructor.
Some concerns were raised about accessibility for various platforms. There is plenty of documentation in their Moodle site.
These tools would be useful in an active learning situation where we ask the students to make a hypothesis about what will happen as a group.