NTC designs virtual labs to support student success
Over the past few months, instructional designers and faculty at Northcentral Technical College (NTC) have been re-imagining the future of science labs. Together, they have worked in weekly sprints to create virtual lab simulations, built fully in-house, that give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace.
Through this collaboration, the team utilized backwards- design methodology, which allowed them to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities students need to be successful in their classes. Then, they designed custom learning solutions that met those needs.
“Virtual labs promote a high level of student engagement and understanding, while not feeling overwhelming,” said Penny Tesch, science instructor at NTC. “This is a great recipe for student success!”
Tesch leads students through modules where content and expectations are reviewed. Students read through materials and review diagrams. Then, students are able to experience virtual lab simulations where they can review videos, such as dissections, and have the opportunity for self-guided exploration where they are challenged with lab quiz questions to help them assess their level of understanding.
“Building content in this way lets students hear about the content, read about the content, and then interact with the content in a variety of ways,” said Cadie Larson, instructional designer at NTC. “For example, the tissues lab allows the students to work with a microscope to view real tissue slides under a variety of magnifications.”
Students enrolled in virtual science labs this summer have told Tesch that the user-friendly design has taken away their anxiety about online learning.
“The layout is clear… and it gives me confidence that I can actually retain more of the parts (of the body) and what they do,” said one General Anatomy & Physiology student.
“The ability to leverage the instructional design team by providing a vision and utilizing their skills to turn that into a final product has been both demanding and inspiring,” said Tesch. “I am proud to partner with NTC’s designers, Cadie Larson and Michael Kozlowski, to support student success in online labs at the college.”