Professional Development for Remote Labs Offered through New Online Training Academy

Professional Development for Remote Labs Offered through New Online Training Academy

remote labs

The Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) is now offering professional development for science teachers through a new online academy. Teachers can learn to use OSEP’s remote laboratories through the new NMC Academy led by the New Media Consortium.

This online educator resource, originally piloted as the HP Academy, is expanding its catalog of free online mini courses for teachers around the world. This Academy provides a fresh approach for accelerating professional learning among educators who teach science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and related 21st-century skills.

A workshop including three learning experiences will help science teachers learn to use OSEP’s online remote laboratories, or iLab network. Online remote laboratories allow high school students to access world-class laboratory equipment online.

Real instruments, rather than simulations, may be used to carry out experiments from anywhere at any time. Unlike conventional facilities, remote online labs can be used widely by schools that do not have the resources to purchase costly lab equipment.

SESP professor Kemi Jona, the director of OSEP, is spearheading the remote labs professional development project as one of 15 inaugural HP Catalyst Academy Fellows. The HP Catalyst Initiative seeks to improve K-12 STEM learning through a network of leading educators and education institutions that are exploring innovative approaches.

OSEP specializes in both teacher professional learning and the development of new learning technologies. The goal of OSEP is to connect K-12 teachers and students with the world-class STEM resources of Northwestern University in order to enhance education in the STEM fields.

Numerous online remote lab experiments are already in use worldwide through OSEP. For example, in the Powder X-Ray Diffraction iLab, one of the newest modules, students study the crystalline lattice structure of a silicone sample by remotely accessing an X-ray diffractometer located at Northwestern University. In addition, an iLab on radioactivity examines the intensity of radiation over distance, using a Geiger counter housed at the University of Queensland in Australia.

The new online teacher professional workshops will prepare educators to make effective use of remote lab experiments such as these. Studies of iLab have shown that remote online labs can overcome many common school laboratory constraints, provide more real-world scientific inquiry tasks, and support the development of learning that is better aligned with authentic science.

Nearly three dozen universities, schools and NGOs are participating in the NMC Academy with online courses. Each of the 36 mini-courses piloted over the past nine months has had an average enrollment of 100 STEM education professionals as students. More than 3,500 teachers and faculty in more than 135 countries have enrolled so far.

The New Media Consortium (NMC) will expand the current catalog of STEM mini-courses in 2014, possibly with additional offerings from OSEP. NMC is an international not-for-profit consortium of learning-focused organizations that explore and use new media and new technologies.

By Marilyn Sherman and New Media Consortium
Last Modified: 3/7/17