Teaching Science Remote

October 16, 2020

The concept of e-learning is generally new to everyone because of the impact of the Coronavirus on education. Many classes have become much harder to teach as a result of e-learning, and science classes are most certainly affected by this.

Teaching a science class remotely presents a new set of challenges for science department head Janis Elliott, the most difficult of which is incorporating technology into class on a scale never done before.​

“We are learning the need for different pieces of technology,” Elliott said. “When you can’t do a lab then you have to do something else, you have to do a simulation or combine it with a stream video that you created,”

 

New forms of teaching a science class have become more popular because of remote learning. One of those would be the use of online resources to teach an entire lesson.

One of those such outlets is Physics Education Technology or PhET for short. This online source gives students an opportunity to observe a lab or simulation that is not possible because of e-learning.

“They provide just little science simulations to enhance learning,” Elliott said. “They are there for when you can’t actually role a marble or use some probe-ware that was available in the past.”

The science teachers understand the importance of doing labs to reinforce what is being taught in class. Because of this they have also had to rearrange the order in which units are taught to help students understand the content easier.

Elliott also believes that technology can become more of a used practice in learning because of the change in societies technological use.

“I think the future will not eliminate core, classical labs from teaching, but students will have more opportunity to see these classical labs through technology,” Elliott said. “YouTube is a great example, YouTube and technology can provide students with a new way of learning in a multimodal variety.”

The lack of technology for some students has also led to some problems. Elliott solved the issue by rewriting labs to better incorporate more people.

“The lab called for alcohol but not every kid will have rubbing alcohol at home, but almost every kid will have hand sanitizer at home, so I was able to rewrite the lab using alternate materials,” Elliott said.

For Elliott, it is important to supplement these reworked labs with information from slideshows, YouTube videos or other forms of learning. She finds it necessary for students to see another person do a lab or explain a topic.

She also misses seeing the students everyday and getting an opportunity to move around the classroom to interact with the students.

“It’s not as fun for teachers when we don’t have students asking us questions in real time,” Elliott said “That is one of the things I think we all are missing.”

Another way Elliott is trying to use what she has to help students learn is by utilizing nature to help students understand science.

We are going to start doing outdoor observations because we want to use the good weather that is still left this year,” Elliottsaid. “Normally we wouldn’t want to take time away from the classroom, but I want to make this a part of one of things I do with my students this year.”

Remote learning may be ending soon for most students, and many of the teachers are happy for a seemingly fresh start back in classrooms. Teachers learned a lot about themselves during the period of e-learning over the start of this school year. Elliott hopes to take this information she has learned and use it moving forward.

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