As the experimental lab was restricted to 1 hour, there was not much time to be able to incorporate extra data to expand students' knowledge. By incorporating the online forums two groups of 8 students were able to conduct the same experiment under different conditions (i.e. different materials), this allowed them to analyse their own results and compare the differences obtained as the outcomes of each material; for example the influence of chemical composition on the mechanical properties of a material subjected to a rolling milling process.
Positive impact for students:
Examples of students' feedback:
80% of the students (group of 170) agreed that the online asynchronous forums are a useful platform to use to compare results and to enhance and increase knowledge when face to face contact time for experimental laboratory activities is restricted.
This activity takes time to set it up and it takes even more time to review the forums, especially for the first time that students are using them (Lab A). For Lab B the process was easier for staff as well as students, who were more familiar to Myspace and the activity itself.
I don’t think I would do anything differently. The students and myself are happy with the outcomes.
Online forums were something new for 65% of the class. This activity was challenging especially when exposing their ideas to the online group, when they don't know what to post, etc.
A huge challenge was the fact that students were not familiar with MyPlace (i.e. layout, navigation, etc)
The activity is scalable to large class sizes, however it is recommended to keep small amount of participants in the forums (max 16)
I recommend this type of activity in other labs where there is time restriction. However I also encourage my students from 2nd and 4th year to post their doubts in the class forum.