The development of blended and online courses is a high priority in the Missouri S&T strategic plan. Typically, redesigns focus on the lecture. But our students don’t come to small town Missouri just to hear a redesigned lecture. They come to do their work. Our experiential programs are what we’re known for. So, instead of just redesigning lecture courses, we’re redesigning lab courses as well.
Our goal of Delivering Experiential Labs to All has built great momentum over the last year. DELTA Labs are not just designed to reach a broader audience, they’re designed to be pedagogically sound, just as we expect from our lecture courses. The goal isn’t just to reach more students, but we also aim to examine the current labs and provide them in a way that will best serve the students.
What we are not doing is creating cookie-cutter labs which are all designed the same way. Each course is analyzed individually and tailored to the specific outcomes for that particular course. Customized instructional design feedback is also provided along the way.
The recent trend to increase blended and online learning at campuses across the country has focused mainly on lecture classes. Because Missouri S&T is a STEM institution, we offer much more than just lecture. The backbone of Missouri S&T is built on experiential learning. We boast 13 student design teams and we even have a working experimental mine, which has been named the best college lab by Popular Science.
Our newly developed strategic plan includes levers to increase access to our renowned faculty and our experiential learning activities. We are not just increasing enrollment in order to meet these goals. We are changing the way the content is delivered and providing increased access to faculty expertise. This increased access has taken many forms. In just the last year, we have developed a blended introductory chemistry lab using lab kits, an online general biology lab using lab kits and an accompanying online platform, a flipped microbiology lab, a blended and flipped cellular biology lab, live streaming video courses from our nuclear reactor, and an online mechanics of materials course using lab kits. But we are just getting started. There are currently several other courses under development as well.
Our DELTA labs erase the boundaries to traditional laboratory classrooms by using best pedagogical practices and intensive instructional design assistance in laboratory course redesign. As a result, we are developing courses in multiple departments across campus with the goal of Delivering Experiential Labs to All. As a part of this effort, I am creating a handbook. The handbook is a collection of redesign guide sheets used by faculty and instructional designers to lay out a timeline for course design progression. Each course receives a customized report based on the Missouri S&T Redesign Guidebook to assist the faculty with redesign completion.
Each pillar is addressed individually below:
Learning Effectiveness - Using the Missouri S&T blended and online redesign guide (adapted from the Quality Matters rubric to better suit our campus needs), all DELTA labs follow best pedagogical practices. Each of these labs goes through a process using an adapted ADDIE model (analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate) as well. One of the main focuses in each redesign is the assurance that the redesigned lab meets course outcomes and that student performance can be measured to be at least as good as before the redesign, if not better.
Scale - A redesign is never done. Each of these DELTA labs is revisited and modified after the initial pilot. As equipment, practices, and technology change, DELTA labs must be updated to keep up with these changes. Each modification is aligned with course outcomes and specific learning objectives. Also, because of the sound pedigogical design, each of these labs can meet the goal of reaching a broader audience, thus increasing our ability to teach non-traditional students and those who are unable to be on campus for a semester.
Access - The ultimate goal of delivering experiential labs to all focuses on access. Each student, however, is also able to utilize all other campus resources, whether they complete a traditional lab, or a redesigned lab on campus or off campus.
Faculty Satisfaction - this project initially began growing because of space and enrollment needs. It's now moving to more of a "word of mouth" driven force. As faculty talk about what they have done, other faculty get excited and begin thinking about their labs as well.
Student Satisfaction - Initial results from students are very positive. Students appreciate the effort that has gone into DELTA labs. They are especially appreciative for quality learning objectives, which are included from the student perspective in each DELTA lab.
Varied and highly customized per course. This includes lab kits from vendors, instructor-created kits, simulations, tutorials, possibly the learning management system (most prefer Canvas) and others resources as necessary.
The cost for lab kits is the most common cost. The kits typically run anywhere between $100 and $300, which is about the same as a textbook. The largest cost, which can't be easily measured, is faculty time.