Distance learning science: ideas and tips

The main challenge in teaching a practical subject such as science at a distance is figuring out how to allow students to experiment, test and explore through manipulations. Here are some ideas to make it easier.

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Does the possibility of having to teach science remotely give you nightmares? Here are some tips and suggestions for digital tools to help you prepare for it.

The main challenge in teaching a practical subject such as science at a distance is figuring out how to allow students to experiment, test and explore through manipulations. As we know, experts agree that teaching at a distance does not mean reproducing your course by videoconference.

Dr Christine Royce, past president of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), who is also a professor at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, maintained on the subject with Ray Bendici, Tech & Learning. She recommends that teachers start by asking what changes when teaching at a distance, and then think about what they need to do to adapt. Easier said than done? “You can start by thinking about the big ideas and what the students need to achieve in the end, rather than duplicating what they do on a traditional school day,” she says.

Digital tools

To teach science at a distance, Dr Royce offers digital tools such as:

  • Flipgrid : Asking students to verbalize their understanding may be more effective than writing it in a distance learning situation
  • Idea Sketch : Allows students to record their own ideas from home.
  • Jamboard from Google: Useful for classifying or grouping scientific concepts, for example animals or organisms in a food chain, with its item manipulation function.
  • : This whiteboard-type application allows a teacher to create a document, then give each student their own version to use. Then it can be used to discuss the results.

These applications or exercisers, without being specifically science-oriented, are tools that support and facilitate the proposed processes. There are also some essential sites to find animations and simulations dedicated to science education. Let's think about:

  • PhET (by the University of Colorado, free online or at low cost in application, in English but some simulations translated);
  • eduMedia (multilingual, on subscription);
  • BrainPop (multilingual, on subscription);
  • There is also the traditional YouTube, which is full of videos on all relevant topics when you do a good preliminary research;
  • In addition, let's not forget the impressive virtual library Alloprof;
  • Finally, it may be interesting to take advantage of the application's virtual and augmented reality content bank. Google Expeditions

3 good practices

Dr Royce lists 3 good practices for distance science education: 

1. The discussion is important and should be facilitated during synchronous lessons. It engages students and helps them make connections between their own ideas and allows them to ask questions of others. From a distance, asynchronous learning time can be used for surveys and observations, and synchronous sessions can focus on group discussions.

2. Think about simplify. Online learning leads to a greater cognitive load. Focusing on the key points will help facilitate student thinking, reasoning and discussion.

3. Get students used to being the architects of their learning. Teachers develop content and sequence while empowering young people to develop their skills. Learning to manage their time and plan tasks is difficult, but this ultimately leads to more interest in their learning.

Read the original article " How to Teach Science Remotely " (in English). To discover other distance learning tools, join us during our CréaCamps training online. 

Carrefour education also offers you these few resources:

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About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Miller
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

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