Off-campus but hands-on: Synchronous mail-out practicals
Dr Chris Honig and Dr Catherine Sutton
Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology
In STEM education, the pivot towards greater online teaching has brought accompanying online equivalents for ‘hands-on’ activities such as virtual practicals, online simulations or remote-controlled laboratories. However research studies indicate that student engagement is often lower in online replacement practicals and heuristic learning outcomes are typically poorer. This presentation looks at an alternative for off-campus, hands-on learning model: mail-out practicals with synchronous online activities.
Mail out pracs are not new; they have long featured in correspondence distance education. But when combined with new synchronous online compliments, they offer a range of new possibilities. In its simplest form this could be live interaction with teaching staff through video conferencing software during a remote hands-on activity. But it could also mean more sophisticated online activities, such as a virtual student partner simulating the experimental results in real-time to predict the experimental outcomes. The presentation draws on 2 case studies from new Chemical Engineering practicals developed in 2020, in response to campus closure, that blend mail-out practicals with complimentary online learning activities.
This Zoom presentation was part of the Melbourne CSHE Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 held on Tuesday 1 June 2021.