Online Experimentation during COVID-19 Secondary School Closures: Teaching Methods and Student Perceptions

Mária Babinčáková, Paweł Bernard
Journal of Chemical Education 2020 September 8, 97 (9): 3295-3300
The COVID-19 lockout situation affected people all over the world. Despite all of the disadvantages, this situation offered new experiences and perspectives and pushed education advances forward as never before. Something that seemed to be unreal became a worldwide reality within a few days. Instructors of all subjects at all educational levels moved to a virtual environment instantly. Higher education institutions, universities, and colleges seemed to be fairly prepared for this situation. Unfortunately, primary and secondary schools, especially in eastern and central Europe, never considered distance education as a valuable alternative before, so they did not have software, hardware, and staff prepared for such a situation. Moreover, students' expectations and dilemmas concerning e-learning were not investigated earlier in the context of obligatory subject education. Moving to the virtual environment was particularly challenging for teachers, who wanted to transfer real class experiences into online lessons since chemistry is based on problems, observations, evidence, and experiments. Often, teachers claimed that they could be more efficient if they had knowledge, skills, and proper equipment to run classes online. This paper presents experiences of secondary chemistry teachers from Slovakia, participants in the IT Academy Project, who earlier, within the framework of the project, were equipped with the necessary skills and tools to run virtual classes, supported with data logging experiments. In this communication, the teachers' efforts using online experimental practices are described, as well as reflections by their students about the experiences.

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