NANSLO represents an international collaborative partnership between postsecondary institutions in the U.S. and Canada working together to develop and deploy high-quality, modular, openly licensed courseware integrating learner-centered and immersive web-based laboratory experiments using software, video and robotics for the study of science courses. See NANSLO partners, advisory board, leadership team, discipline panels and industry partners.
NANSLO serves an important role in advancing science education opportunities for students, faculty, and institutions by developing creative science solutions. NANSLO provides technological solutions that address many of the barriers that prevent low-income, first generation college students who are at risk of failing from completing their degrees or pursuing science-based careers due to challenges such as work and family obligations or living in rural areas that limit their access to traditional classes.
Delivering Value to Students
NANSLO experiences have the potential to deepen student engagement in online science courses and enable more students, especially those who find it difficult to take classes on campus, to persist in science-related programs. In particular, it expands access and addresses persistence barriers by offering quality alternatives to gatekeeper science courses offered in traditional classroom settings. Through NANSLO, students:
- Gain access to sophisticated lab equipment remotely.
- Experience lab opportunities that may not be available locally or difficult to schedule based on personal and work commitments.
- Robotically control lab equipment through web-enabled software.
- Access accurate scientific data making the experience authentic for students.
- College data in real time.
- Opportunities to work as a group on experiments just as in a face-to-face setting.
- Ability to capture high quality pictures for assignments and reports.
- Expand opportunities to practice what has already been covered in class.
- Learn software skills that can be leveraged in class and in work.
Delivering Value to Faculty
Rigorous remote web-based science lab (RWSL) experiences promote academic acceptance of online education. Often, the primary cause of science faculty skepticism stems from concern that students are unable to use real lab equipment to gather and analyze real scientific data. A “hands-on” experience is perceived to be critical for students.
NANSLO faculty members generally agree that remote access to scientific equipment will be soon be commonplace in undergraduate education. RWSL exercises provide hands-on robotic access to high quality equipment along with the ability to capture authentic data for presentation and analysis using a range of software products. The increasing rigor of RWSL exercises combined with successful student outcomes will stand as evidence for those who need objective proof of this modality’s usefulness.
Through NANSLO, faculty can:
- Create experiments not available with current campus equipment.
- Require more precise data for assigned experiments.
- Reach place-bound students who might not otherwise be able to participate.
- Expand access to more rigorous science courses.
- Support opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom.
- Access NANSLO resources to assist in building sophisticated experiments.
- Connect with colleagues at other institutions and share best practices.
Delivering Value to Educational Institutions
Urban and rural campuses alike can benefit from extending access to high quality remote laboratory equipment without expending the high dollars needed to establish the lab. This allows colleges to divert limited funds to those areas that have the greatest impact. RWSL can also bring opportunity to a range of high school programs: alternative, AP and IB programs all benefit. Access and rigor are available to all students who can secure broadband Internet access and have a computer meeting the required RWSL specifications.
Delivering Value to Online Courses Assisting in Favorable Articulation Decisions by Four-Year Institutions
As the evidence of RWSL authenticity becomes well established, discussion of articulation will become ever more common. Colorado Community College System (CCCS) currently provides 18 statewide articulation agreements in fields from Anthropology to Spanish. Science agreements are in progress, and the use of Colorado’s NANSLO remote lab nodes has helped move the discipline-based discussions forward as it replicates the classroom experience with a high level of rigor and authenticity.
Another NANSLO strength is that it brings faculty from four-year and two-year campuses together in development of the RWSL exercises. See Discipline Panels. This teamwork is rare in higher education and serves to spark the type of dialog among faculty that is helpful in designing lab experiments at the two-year college level that meet the transfer standards of four-year institutions.
To expand its initial work, NANSLO not only continues to seek additional funding but also is creating a sustainable model for continued delivery of high quality online laboratory experiences to science students through its network of participating institutions. The NANSLO organization is developing a business plan that will cover the ongoing operating costs of the NANSLO nodes and make participation in NANSLO attractive to institutions providing and/or using remote lab services.
The business plan will include identifying:
- Implementation costs of production labs.
- Staffing requirements to provide and deliver NANSLO services including technical and support staff to operate and maintain equipment.
- Potential revenue sources.
- Levels of faculty involvement needed to develop and refine NANSLO experiences on an ongoing basis.
- Marketing plans to build awareness about participation in the NANSLO network and the use of its services.
More information about the thinking behind NANSLO's sustainability plans can be found on the NANSLO wiki.
Institutions interested in joining the NANSLO network as a service provider or user of its services should contact Kay Hulstrom at KHulstrom@wiche.edu.