Arizona State University’s Design for Remote Labs

Visit: Arizona State University’s design for remote labs

A video that describes several forms of remote labs, including evaluating the pros and cons of each format. It describes: virtual labs, in which students simulate the experience of working at a bench; asynchronous labs, in which students are sent a packaged lab to complete on their own time and at their own pace; kitchen labs, in which students perform a simple experiment with basic equipment available in any household; and synchronous labs, in which students are sent equipment but conduct the lab simultaneously, in front of their own computer, while being led by an instructor. A number of other resources are linked from this page.

Pros: A good place to start if you are wrestling with the initial complexities of how to transition a lab to an online environment.  Resources and suggestions are offered for both science-based labs as well as art, music, and performance studios in the humanities.

Cons: Lacks concrete suggestions about effective strategies to design your own virtual/asynchronous/kitchen/synchronous labs.

Online Learning Consortium Laboratories Module

The Online Learning Consortium laboratories module is a highly useful set of resources for anyone teaching laboratories in the Natural or Social Sciences. It’s one offered by the Online Learning Consortium in collaboration with Every Learner Everywhere, a network of higher education organizations supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 


Among other contributions, it:

  • Suggests a set of revised learning goals and objectives when teaching virtual labs
  • Outlines potential obstacles when teaching online labs and how to address these
  • Provides a number of alternative, online activities to hands-on laboratory experiences; many of these are very intentionally interactive and collaborative among students
  • Best of all, it provides links to several online databases; free simulations; opportunities to contribute to a number of “citizen science projects” being conducted across the nation, and in different disciplines; ideas for “at home laboratory exercises”; data visualization resources; and searchable indexes of available, online laboratories and simulations.


One drawback is that this set of resources primarily addresses labs in the Natural and Social Sciences, and less so in the Humanities. Nevertheless, the ideas offered here may generalize, to some extent, to studio-type courses.