Increasingly, online college science courses are using “virtual labs” that allow students do chemistry tests and even dissect simulated animals over online connections. It’s one of the more radical forms of e-learning, and it’s already attracted hundreds of thousands of students in some states.
A Few Skeptics
But experiments being done on computers – and sometimes on kitchen tables – have raised skeptical comments from some professors. While many admit that computer simulations today are excellent, some fear it’s difficult to control students and rate their work through online college science courses.
But web-based science courses are proving extremely successful in bringing college-level learning to students. Some of the most avid users at the moment are high school students in rural areas, who want to take advanced placement or “a.p.” courses that earn them college credit before they even begin a college degree program.
Advanced Placement Successes
In spite of efforts by some professors to create rules that would outlaw college credit being given for any non hands-on science courses offered over the internet, kids who take these courses have repeatedly scored well on state-sponsored “a.p.” tests that measure science knowledge.
The online college science courses have students hoarding everything from vegetables to cooking oil, used glass jars and unique plants to do experiments on in their homes. The more advanced work of dissecting fish, pigs and other popular lab animals is often done through high-resolution computer simulations, with students clicking on a mouse rather than cutting with a scalpel.