The value of hands-on activities during distance learning (5-28 April 2020)

Author: Aiki Jogeva

When our school closed on March 12, no one believed that we would not be able to return to school during this school year. So we can say that during overnight the lives of both students and teachers changed dramatically. At first, everybody needed some time to get used to the new situation and very soon we were facing a problem of too much screen time.

When planning inquiry-based tasks, I have often preferred those that can be done hands-on, or in reality. There are definitely loads of inquiry-based tasks that can be done successfully with animations, models and other digital tools. Nevertheless, in chemistry, biology or science both I and my students consider experimenting with natural objects or substances more exciting and I didn’t want to give it up. In the classroom it has worked well, especially because students worked in groups, they could discuss and help each other. But it seemed to be a challenge during the distance learning period.

I wanted to make use of the situation and asked myself a research question: How does distance learning (e-learning) influence the students’ interest in doing hands-on inquiry-based tasks?

I set up the hypothesis that most of the students will be enthusiastic because they can get away from the screens.

I used structured inquiry resources from our own student books. In some cases, I had to change the list of equipment because people had to stay at home and couldn’t go shopping freely. Sometimes I relied on the explanations in the books, sometimes we had lessons on Google Meet before or after the activity.

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