Design Principles for Remote Lab Courses
This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on teaching lab courses. More Lab Courses documents
Core principles to use in designing lab courses
Core Design Principles
Ensure equity and access
It is critical that all students can fully participate in the remote lab activities. This involves designing inclusive activities that do not favor some students over others and that represent a variety of ways to interact with lab materials. This likewise entails using asynchronous content delivery where possible when using remote delivery, considering student access to technology, creating accessible content, and adapting accessibility requests for an online environment.
Maintain a clear and consistent structure
Transparent, regular communication with students is required to support their learning and guide them through the lab environment. Clear expectations, lab goals, deadlines, and methods for asking questions and getting feedback should be reflected in your syllabus and throughout the structure of the lab environment.
Practice empathy while fostering student interactions
Students may feel overwhelmed about learning in the adapted lab format, concerned about where to find help and resources, or unsure how to connect in this environment. Be mindful of the environmental factors they might be experiencing and their concerns about workload or preparation for subsequent courses. Provide a clear and welcoming means for students to communicate concerns.
Design for safety
Everyone involved in the course should have a clear understanding of necessary safety protocols for at-home lab kits or on-campus experiences requiring physical distancing. Develop lab safety policies and expectations that are adapted to your lab context, and be prepared to think through and adapt activities if students cannot safely carry them out. Provide a means for students to voice their safety concerns and questions.
Consider the broader context of your discipline
Keep in mind where the lab fits into the overall curriculum or course sequence, as well as students’ career development. Students may need guidance or reassurance about how the remote lab meets accreditation or admissions standards for graduate or professional schools. Provide digital resources for departmental or campus advising services.