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Specialized Resources (labs, studio, etc.)


One of the biggest challenges of teaching during a building or campus closure is sustaining the lab components of classes. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space.

  • If students need to learn laboratory/experimental techniques, consider the possibility that some or all of this learning could nonetheless happen online. Are there techniques that they could learn from online simulations or videos?
  • If students need to see the outcome of a lab/experiment, consider sharing a video of the experiment being conducted.
  • If what’s important is students working together to solve problems, tools like WebEx will allow them to interact via video. Office 365 applications (Word, Excel, etc.) will allow students to work in the same documents and spreadsheets either simultaneously or at different times.
  • If students need to process (analyze, write up, present, etc.) data that would be produced by a lab/experiment, consider whether you have access to relevant data from earlier in the semester, past semesters or from the published literature.
  • If students need to keep working on a long-term project, ask yourself whether they could go forward with that project based on the work they’ve already done this semester, with or without adding new simulations and videos to the mix.


For example, orientation/pre-lectures and demonstrations of techniques can be recorded and then uploaded to Ensemble Video. Students can be asked to familiarize themselves with procedures. Peer learning can be done asynchronously using Blackboard discussions or synchronously via Microsoft Teams.

  • If your goal is for students to be able to use a particular technique, possibly online simulations or videos will be helpful.
  • If your goal is for students to visualize a principle (that is, the lab is a demonstration), you may be able to find high quality online demonstrations.
  • If your goal is for students to be able to interpret experimental data, you can find and share data sets.
  • If your goal is to have students do authentic research projects, your students may already have made progress. Perhaps it’s time to have them present what they have now. Students can present data, interpretations, predictions, design the experiments to address the next question, or present the next hypothesis.

In cases where the lab includes both collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze. This approach is not as comprehensive as having students collect and analyze their own data, but it might keep them engaged with parts of the lab experience during the closure.

Contact CTLA/DLAC [] address software access and explore options for students who no longer have access to campus computing resources.

Sometimes labs are more about having time for direct student interaction, so consider other ways to replicate that level of contact if it is only your lab that is out of commission.

You may be able to accomplish some lab activities via online simulation. Below, are a few options for you to investigate.

Online Labs and Simulations

  • MERLOT Simulation Collection (California State University)
    The MERLOT collection of Open Educational Resources includes thousands of free simulations on a broad range of topics. The database is searchable by keyword, and each item in the collection provides details including material type, authorship, brief description, peer review rating, and user rating.
  • ChemCollective (joint project from NSF, Carnegie Mellon, and NSDL)
    Free, online chem lab simulations for topics including Stoichiometry, Thermochemistry, Equilibrium, Acid-Base Chemistry, Solubility, Oxidation/Reduction and Electrochemistry, Analytical Chemistry/Lab Techniques
  • PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado – Boulder)
    Free online simulations and teaching activities for Physics, Chemistry, Math, Earth Science, and Biology (site has simulations for all grade levels; link takes you to simulations designed for university students)
  • eScienceLabs
    Fee-based service that will work with faculty to create custom online and hands-on lab kits for your course
  • Hands-On Labs
    Fee-based service that will work with faculty to create custom online and hands-on lab kits for your  course




The first thing to think about is your learning goals. Instead of focusing on the specific assignments and work you’ve typically asked students to do, focus on the reasons you designed those assignments and that work. Perhaps it will be possible to reach the same goals in a different way. Some ideas:

  • Make use of the available virtual resources
    • Videoconferencing tools like WebEx allow you to meet live with students—all at once, in small groups, or one-on-one—with sound and streaming video. Could you conduct voice lessons this way? Could students use this platform to share performances with one another and you?
    • If students need to take in art as part of the course, you can turn to online resources—most museums have images available to the public (though they may not be of sufficiently high resolution for all purposes), and some are even offering virtual tours. Recordings of performances can be found all over the web. 
    • You can incorporate research projects into the students’ responsibilities. 
    • Could digital art be an acceptable medium for students to work in?
  • Make use of the physical resources available to students: Depending on your learning goals, it may work for you to guide students toward making art from materials they have at hand. (Though, with certain materials, you’ll need to be sure students have adequate ventilation.) Very likely these won’t be the materials you would typically require for an art class, but working under the constraints of what’s available could in some circumstances be of creative value. And drawing would almost always be possible.
  • Focus on professionalization: Perhaps students could practice writing artist statements, design websites, or could apply for professional opportunities as part of their course experience.
  • Reflection is an important part of learning, and can be an important part of creation: Ask students to write reflections—or deliver them orally, or create inspiration boards—on the work they’ve done so far.
  • And, finally, a note about the artistic opportunities in teaching art courses in the midst of the COVID experience: This experience, with all its uncertainty and change, is probably an emotional experience for your students. This may produce challenges for them, but it could also easily stimulate new art projects; if everyone’s already thinking about this situation, it might as well show up in their work.

While liveness is often an integral part of performance-based curricula, there are resources for moving teaching into the digital sphere. When in-person meetings are not possible, online tools, content, and protocols can offer new approaches to technique, choreography, performance, and collaboration.

Performances and rehearsals that require a stage are difficult to fully replicate, but various types of practice can be encouraged at home. Remote peer feedback can be carried out using the grouping strategies mentioned above, along with available recording devices (e.g. laptops and cellular phones).

We want to especially highlight Celeste Miller’s work on the Digital Bridges to Dance project, which includes:

  • Methods for choreographers to collaborate across geographic distance for the purpose of professional artistic development
  • Curriculum for dance-based experiential embodied practices that can
    be used by choreographers, and other artists; classroom teachers and
    community leaders.


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