Exchanging the laboratory for a smartphone – How remote teaching is being implemented at the University of Helsinki

The coronavirus situation has forced university teachers to come up with creative solutions for organising their teaching. In certain fields, the efforts required are greater than in others.

Usually, students completing intermediate studies in physics spend seven weeks in a laboratory, building devices with which to explore a range of physical phenomena. This spring is different. All teaching, including laboratory work, is being carried out remotely.

What this means in practice is that students utilise ready-to-use data or their own devices for calculations.

“Students can use smartphones to measure, among other things, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields and acceleration. They can compare the viscosity of water and oil by investigating how fast a ball sinks in these fluids. If there’s one positive result of these exceptional circumstances, it’s that students are at least learning to take advantage of the possibilities offered by their phones,” says postdoctoral researcher Inkeri Kontro, who provides instruction in the intermediate physics studies.

Kontro says the transition to remote teaching has gone surprisingly well, with only a single student dropping out of her course. There has been no need to modify the learning outcomes. Instead, the means of achieving them have changed.

Read the full story by Reetta Vairimaa and Petter Gröning in Flamma.


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