microscope and petri dish

Getting science lab experience from home

Microbiologist shares the challenges of switching to remote learning during COVID-19 outbreak

March 23, 2020

Today marks the first day of remote learning at UMass, which will continue through the rest of the spring 2020 semester. The transition poses challenges for all professors, but Erika Hamiltonmicrobiology, notes that it is especially difficult for science faculty. Science labs require hands-on involvement that students cannot recreate at home. In an interview with Western Mass News, Hamilton shares her experience adapting her curriculum and her plans for the remainder of the semester. 


From ‘Professors working to switch curriculum from in-person to remote learning’  

While a lot of curriculum can easily be moved to a remote setting, some professors, including Erika Hamiltonmicrobiology, are struggling to make the switch. She is still hard at work transitioning her courses to remote learning. And while the switch to remote learning is challenging for all professors, Hamilton told Western Mass News it’s especially difficult for classes that require hands-on learning. 

"Lecture course is somewhat easier to switch to remote learning. However, I teach lab classes. It gets complicated to figure out," Hamilton explained. 

But she does have a plan in place to make sure her students get the most they can out of the remaining semester. "I will be filming myself doing the experiment and posting all the data online so they can interpret the data and still write their lab reports," Hamilton said. 

While she'd love for her students to follow along at home, she said it's simply not possible. "A lot of what we do requires specialty equipment and they just don't have that at home," Hamilton noted. 

Even though the students will miss out on doing the experiments themselves, Hamilton believes the college has made the right decision to move online. "For the students, we know this is hard. It's very unexpected, it’s sad, it’s frustrating and I know a lot of students are worried about how it will impact their education. We're going to do the best we can to make sure they get the education they paid for,” Hamilton explained. 

Read the full story and watch Hamilton’s interview on Western Mass News >> 

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