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  5. An investigation into the breadth of learning outcomes and skills developed in OpenSTEM Labs experiments

An investigation into the breadth of learning outcomes and skills developed in OpenSTEM Labs experiments

Project leader(s): 
Helen Lockett

The OpenSTEM Labs (OSL) deliver authentic practical experiences to our distance learning students in STEM subjects using real time instrumentation, data and equipment for practical enquiries over the internet. The Open University has made a substantial investment in the OSL and built up a large repository of experiments. The aim of this project is to investigate the breadth of learning outcomes developed across all the OSL experiments and develop tools to help design OSL experiments in the future, with a view to Module teams being better informed to make the right choices when considering using the OSL. The project will improve our understanding of which types of experiments, student interactions and assessments best develop which learning outcomes and skills. 

The project will start with a literature review to identify existing classifications of remote experiments and their learning outcomes. The findings from literature will be used to define a taxonomy of remote/ onscreen laboratory activities, learning outcomes and assessments.

All the Faculty’s OpenSTEM Labs experiments will then be mapped using the defined taxonomy to create a searchable database.  It is anticipated that the results will allow us to identify a set of common experiment types, learning outcomes and assessment methods, and will be used to develop a design tool that will assist with designing new activities in the future. This could be in the form of simple postcards describing activity types, learning outcomes and skills that could be used by module teams early in the module learning design process. 

The project will benefit staff by making it easier to design effective experiments that contribute to student success and progression. It will also help module teams to find information about existing OSL experiments for possible reuse. The project will benefit students by enhancing the use of the OpenSTEM Labs in our teaching.

Helen Lockett, James Smith and Kevin Gowans poster (PDF)