Approaches to Teaching a Biomaterials Laboratory Course Online
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of the employment, health care and educational systems throughout the world. Approximately 5,300 universities in the United States had to rapidly transition to the online teaching platform. Although online teaching has been around since the 1990’s many undergraduate engineering programs have resisted their full adoption due to high attrition rates, difficulty in the instruction of mathematically intensive courses and the lack of hands-on experiential learning necessary for ABET accreditation. In this study, we address challenges faced by incorporating a biomaterials laboratory course online. First, we assessed student satisfaction and learning outcome of a hands-on biomaterials laboratory module replaced by a virtual lab simulation. Course surveys and quizzes were used to determine student satisfaction, learning outcomes and confidence level. In the second investigation, we evaluate the course learning outcome that measures the ability to conduct experimentation and draw conclusions. Results have shown that the virtual laboratory achieved satisfactory learning outcomes and was preferred by most of the students that were surveyed. In the case of a pandemic or any emergency situation, online teaching pedagogy is essential for students to remain engaged and learning outcomes to be achieved. Furthermore, success with these techniques can be used as a catalyst for the adoption of future online programs that can open the door to job opportunities for multiple student populations.