JoVE in Action: How to Bring a General Chemistry Lab Course Online

Supriya Kamath, JoVE Writer | 6 min read
Supriya Kamath, JoVE Writer | 6 min read

JoVE in Action is a series of blog posts highlighting how STEM educators around the world have used JoVE to support their remote teaching efforts. We hope these stories will be useful for instructors looking for effective ways to deliver their science and lab courses online or in hybrid formats. 

Dr. Kathryn Allen is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Millersville University. When her institution moved to remote instruction this past spring, she, like many educators worldwide, had to shift her courses online. Among these was her General Chemistry II course that explored basic concepts of kinetics, thermodynamics, solubility, acid-base chemistry and electrochemistry. It incorporated a two-hour lab, one-hour recitation, and three-hour lecture each week. 

Dr. Allen found content from the JoVE Education video library helpful for bringing her lab classes online. For one of her labs, she selected a video from the JoVE Science Education: Chemistry series, which demonstrated the process of determining the solubility rules of ionic compounds in the laboratory. 

She then created a handout that asked questions about the concepts and methods presented in the video. She focused on the principles it illustrated, and also asked questions about important techniques like centrifugation and decanting. These questions included, for example:

  • “Describe what would happen if a centrifuge isn’t balanced before being run (hint: what happens to an unbalanced washing machine)?
  • Given a mixture of chloride ion and phosphate ion, suggest how you might separate the two ions using solubility rules using any nitrate salt. Use a Ksp table to help you analyze this problem.”

In addition to creating this handout, Dr. Allen also recorded a pre-lab PowerPoint lecture using a screen capture software. This short lecture focused on solubility and quantitative analysis, and served to introduce two key points: what quantitative analysis is, and how solubility rules work to separate ions. 

She then asked her students to watch the pre-lab lecture and the JoVE video, and read the detailed text article accompanying the JoVE video. She also provided them with the handout, and they answered the questions based on what they had learned from Dr. Allen’s lecture and the JoVE content that they were assigned. 

This method of bringing a lab class online can be used in advanced science courses too. Alongside her 100-level General Chemistry course, Dr. Allen was also teaching a 300-level polymers course when her institution moved to remote instruction. For one of the labs in this course, she used a video article from JoVE Journal, a peer-reviewed journal that publishes scientific research in video form alongside detailed text protocols. She recorded a pre-lab lecture in which she linked the concept of ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) to the research presented in the video article. She also asked her students to complete a handout that asked questions about the information and techniques illustrated in the video and its associated text protocol.

Speaking about the process of teaching a lab class online, Dr. Allen said, "Don't stress if the lab doesn't hit all your learning objectives or if you feel the handout is too short, just find something FUN and INTERESTING and level appropriate and take advantage of the fact that JoVE has content laid out for you all ready to go.”

If you would like to learn how to effectively incorporate JoVE video resources into your hybrid, remote, or in-person science course, request a free consultation from our Customer Success team.

Related Posts