The Vision

This is the current vision for SLO that has grown out of my Paid-Ed-Leave (sabbatical) with Capilano University. My initial vision was to cover the Physics Labs, but this has expanded to encompass all first year labs. The online needs of all first year labs are very similar.

Title
Science Labs Online (SLO)

The Vision
A website application to support first year science labs at post-secondary institutions of BC
– Further: pursue online, web-based, first year credited science labs
– Further: assemble a collaborative website supporting the development of ScienceLabsOnline

Methods

Build list of expected learning outcomes for first year Physics labs

  • explicitly identify outcomes for each of the Cap 1st year Physics lab periods
  • develop common outcomes expected from 1st year Physics labs (credit expectations across all institutions)
  • spend time working with other Physicists in developing the outcomes
  • work towards being able to clearly define expected first year learning outcomes
  • work to gaining acceptance by other institutions of the outcomes
  • tag individual Physics labs (and courses) with specific outcomes
  • extend to other sciences

Open dialog with other institutions in BC

  • build contact list of lab people and of faculty that oversee lab policy (instructors, lab supervisors, technicians)
  • develop framework for online discussions and online communications
  • contact people involved with Physics labs at other BC post-secondary institutions
    • make special effort to try to gain early involvement of UBC/SFU/Uvic/UNBC
    • look for input and feedback on lab learning outcomes
    • attempt early on to include other institutions, to gain acceptance and involvement
    • do site visits of other institutions’ labs to connect with Physics lab people

ScienceLabsOnline web

  • Build online web structure to host science labs.
    • web application running on a IIS web server using server-side asp.net programming with a SQL server
  • Based on a data driven architecture that would host many institutions.
    • structured web interface
      • structured sections (objective, procedure) with options for custom sections
      • role specific views (student view, print view, instructor development view)
    • support for collaborative development of labs
      • implement sharing parts of online labs
  • web components include
    • integrated web grading book
      • forms the basis (root) for SLO web activities
      • for use with online labs or used on its own
    • web area for hosting labs
      • data driven web with options for
        • custom content structure (such as header, objective, introduction)
        • linking to hosted documents
        • student data collection for dynamical analysis
        • associating defined learning outcomes with labs
      • labs characterized for a supervised laboratory setting or unsupervised, outside the laboratory
    • web instructional section
      • defined learning outcomes for labs
      • support a contacts list of lab people (emphasis on BC)
      • secure document hosting (web lab manual, teaching notes, quizzes)
      • linked to ScienceLabsOnline Development web

ScienceLabsOnline Integrated Development

  • Components that facilitate networking, discussions, dialog among science lab people are integrated into SLO
    • other scientists may be interested in contributing to and helping with this.
    • this resource will be of strong interest and used by other lab people
  • summary of BC institutions Physics departments approach to Physics labs
    • people involved with or who have influence on Physics labs
    • involvement potential with PhysLabsOnline
  • summary of other 1st year Physics lab sites as well as other groups pursuing labs online
  • development summary resource of computer program coding and key development results

Build online, web-based, first year credited Physics labs

  • Traditional Physics labs supported with online services
    • Labs intended to be conducted in a supervised laboratory at an institution
    • web services offers
      • online manual with wiki support
      • data collection with calculated feedback based on student data
      • a web reference of Physics labs to students pursuing upper levels
    • External Physics labs driven by online services
      • Labs conducted outside of a traditional supervised laboratory setting
      • Virtual labs: of no interest to me but this website could host such labs developed by other institutions
      • Real labs: physical experiments that students would conduct outside of a supervised laboratory
        • My strong interest, to eventually develop a series of first year equivalent Physics experiments using real (not virtualized) equipment conducted by students to obtain hands-on lab experience outside of a traditional laboratory setting.
      • External labs built:
        • to address defined lab learning outcomes
        • with expectation of institution involvement
          • Physics Depts. select and oversee experiments assigned to students
          • Equipment kits are defined that an institution would loan to students
        • might be pursued initially as makeup labs for students who miss a lab period in a course

Other resources to consider

  • consider involvement of textbook publishers and Physics equipment suppliers
  • pursue external funding for development and operations

Background notes and comments

  • Great progress has been made in a first draft of this web-based application that is database driven. Basic components of this system are in place and have been used in the first year labs.
  • The basis of the project is essentially a web-based lab management system.
  • Learning outcomes for Physics labs have never been defined, at Capilano or any other institutions that I know of. My long time experience with teaching Physics labs opens an opportunity to define lab goals that might be accepted by the Physics community.
    • Institutions crediting first year Physics labs often use time spent in a Physics laboratory doing experimental activities as a principal criterion to grant credit.
  • Credited labs outside of a laboratory setting is a “can-of-worms” invoking strong concerns by Physicists and real interest by administrators. ScienceLabsOnline may open the issue for debate and consideration.
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