By Arianna Schuck
When Florida Tech announced that the university would be switching to online class instruction for the remainder of the spring semester on Mar. 12, many questions were raised, especially regarding the curriculum structure for lab instructions.
“We have made some adjustments to the ground rules for field and lab work in order to maintain social distancing,” said Richard Aronson, department head of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences. This includes having fewer people in a lab at a time.
On Florida Tech’s Coronavirus updates page, under the frequently asked questions section, Florida Tech administration responded to a question regarding how labs would be taught saying; “there are several solutions to be implemented to support laboratory classes. At this point, we are finalizing the plans to convert all laboratory courses online.” The FAQ page also stated that additional details on specific laboratory requirements will be provided by the professors.
According to Aronson, the research labs will continue to take place, but there have been some changes to adapt to the current circumstances.
“We are carrying out our lab exercises through video demonstrations, through the use of data from previous years’ labs and through the purchase of software,” Aronson said.
While some faculty such as Julia Grimwade, program chair for biological sciences and chemistry, have said the switch to online lab instruction is necessary for students and faculty members safety in light of COVID-19, some students’ perspectives have varied.
Alexander Datillo, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, feels that lab instruction needs to be done in person.
“Understanding the results of a lab should be made easier by switching to online,” Datillo said. “But the lack of hands-on experience will make it difficult to learn from mistakes that could be made during the experiment had it actually been performed in a lab setting.”
Other students such as Katherine Johnson, a junior majoring in general biology, said that her workload has become more taxing since switching to online instruction. Out of all of Jackson’s classes and two labs, the only instruction through Zoom is one of her labs.
“The lack of uniform structure is taking a toll on my education,” Jackson said.“The point of labs is so they are hands on ways of learning and practicing lab protocol, simply posting data is inadequate.”
Grimwade stated that the situation for online lab instruction is not ideal, however she believes students are still receiving a very good education.
Aronson also added that given the current circumstances, lab instruction is “quite good” at the moment.
“What matters is that we are maintaining educational outcomes,” Aronson