Montana State University in Bozeman and MSU-Great Falls College of Technology are among the partners on a new distance learning grant that will help faculty learn how to develop and offer science labs online. The project, titled the North American Network of Science Labs Online (NANSLO), will explore the use of online science labs in both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs.
Faculty from the MSU campuses, along with colleagues in Wyoming, Colorado and British Columbia, will study a system now in existence that allows online students to use the Web to access and control actual lab equipment, perform lab exercises and collect data in real time. Project partners will then explore ways to implement these labs in a variety of educational institutions.
For years, scientists have used remotely controlled instrumentation such as the Mars Exploration Rover or deep-sea submersibles. However, the application of this technology to education is not widely used. The MSU campuses hope that study of this model can pave the way for development of more online science courses with real-world laboratory components.
Next Generation Learning Challenges is a collaborative, multi-year program focused on identifying and accelerating the growth of effective educational technology that can help improve college readiness and completion in the United States, especially among low-income individuals. The program is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewitt Foundation.