The Labster Podcast

Hear New Episodes Every 2 Weeks

The Labster Podcast gives science educators like you a chance to hear from peers who teach with Labster’s virtual labs and other educational technologies. We’ll reflect on learning and curriculum design, and leave you feeling inspired and energized about reaching and teaching your students.

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Equity and Representation in STEM Education (Part 2)

Episode 15: Summary

The importance of providing guidance, mentoring, and opportunities to network drive the conversation in this second part of our special two-part episode with chemistry professor Cord Carter and his former student and research assistant, Brianna Brown. Brianna explains how her alma mater, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, has successfully helped her to stay motivated to reach her bold goals. Cord tells a personal story about how important it was that one of his own professors expressed a personal interest in him, and how he now works to help his students to take inspiration from a diverse group of STEM professionals he invites into his classroom.

Equity and Representation in STEM Education (Part 1)

Episode 14: Summary

In part one of this special two-part episode, SJ chats with chemistry professor Cord Carter and his former student and research assistant, Brianna Brown. Cord and Brianna share their experiences teaching and learning at Fisk University, a well-known HBCU in Nashville, TN. They discuss their passion for STEM education, the importance of Fisk’s history, and how much representation matters.

The Tool is Not Your Course

Episode 13: Summary

If you’re here to ask Dr. Karen Vignare to recommend “the right learning tool”, take a number. In this episode, she highlights the findings of her research into using adaptive courseware as part of a student-first approach to instruction. So what can educators do to support more students to succeed in gateway courses? Spoiler alert: it takes more than just buying the right tool.

Research on Labster in the Classroom

Episode 12: Summary

Not every chemistry educator starts college knowing they’ll have a career in STEM – some stumble upon their calling. That was the case for Dr. Melody Esfandiari, who shares her story and her personal commitment to supporting other women in science at the beginning of this episode. Always curious, Melody wanted to find out whether her Introductory Chemistry students felt prepared to conduct experiments in a real wet lab after learning with Labster virtual labs. So, she conducted her own research, comparing grades as well as students’ self-reported data about their learning experience. You’ll hear Melody’s findings and find out what surprised her most.

Academic Technologists: the unsung heroes of pandemic teaching

Episode 11: Summary

Who did faculty members turn to for support when Zoom suddenly became the de facto medium for teaching? At the 23 universities within the Cal State system, it was the members of the Academic Technology Services department. They worked overtime to train faculty members in how to bring their labs, lectures, and assessments online. So how did these academic technologists do it? And what will happen to their digital learning initiatives when in-person classes safely resume? In this episode, you’ll hear from two guests who have the answers: Dr. Leslie Kennedy, senior director of Academic Technology Services at The California State University in the Office of the Chancellor, and Shaidy Ruiz, Communications Analyst in the Department of Academic Technology Services.

Reflection is the Key

Episode 10: Summary

How do students learn from a simulation? Is it when they are engaged in the experience? When they prepare for it? The answer is neither, according to Dr. Amber Kool. Her dissertation research revealed that students learn most when they debrief and reflect on their simulation learning experience. In this episode, Kool shares her thoughts on best practices for teaching virtual lab simulations. Kool is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona College of Nursing, where her students will use Labster as part of their post-Covid return to face-to-face and hybrid learning.

Answering Your FAQs: Labster for High School

Episode 9: Summary

Wondering how virtual labs can help your students (and you!) make the most of your time in the real lab? Curious about whether virtual labs can help your students visualize abstract concepts and have their own lightbulb moments? Labster’s own Carlin Robinson addresses lots of your FAQs about teaching high school science with virtual labs.

STEM for All (Part 2)

Episode 8: Summary

How can a university fulfill its commitment to make STEM for All a reality? In Part 2 of our conversation with Dr. Sophia Rahming, she describes an innovative strategy used by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Florida State University to empower undergraduate Learning Assistants to partner with graduate Teaching Assistants and course faculty so that first and second year students have what they need to succeed in gateway STEM courses.

STEM for All (Part 1)

Episode 7: Summary

Does geography determine who gets to learn science? Who does science belong to? In this episode, we discuss Dr. Sophia Rahming’s provocative research around the structural biases and barriers to studying science and the need for culturally responsive science education. Dr. Rahming is an Associate Director in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Florida State University and is researching the experiences of Afro-Caribbean women in STEM in the United States.

Diversity in the Online Classroom

Episode 6: Summary

With classes still remote due to COVID, Biology professors Selinda Martinez and Julie Kelley have an honest discussion about the experience of teaching diverse students in asynchronous online courses. We’ll explore their ideas for creating a shared sense of community among their online students at Laredo College in Texas.

Multistream Science Education for Nontraditional Students

Episode 5: Summary

With undergraduate science degrees now requiring up to 5-6 years of on-campus time to complete, how can a nontraditional student with a job and family ever achieve a bachelor’s degree and get ahead at work? Professor Jennifer C. Bobenko suggests it’s time for a paradigm shift she’s calls Multistream Education. Jennifer, a professor of biochemistry and chair of IRB at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, thinks nontraditional students should be able to graduate in just a few years, and she knows how to get it done. In this thought provoking episode, she shares her vision for Multistream Education as a partnership between traditional degree-granting universities, MOOCs, industry, and virtual lab providers like Labster.

Ideas for Teaching with Labster (Part 2)

Episode 4: Summary

“Are you struggling with the fear of trying something new in your classroom? In Part Two of our conversation, Professors Felicia Vulcu and Cailtin Mullarkey talk about their belief that creating a safe and nurturing culture within a classroom community permits both students and teachers to take risks and innovate. We also discuss their favorite edtech tools for biochemistry courses, valuable takeaways from pandemic teaching, and their ideas to quickly train students with hands-on, tactile lab skills when in-person learning resumes at McMaster University.”

Ideas for Teaching with Labster (Part 1)

Episode 3: Summary

“Are you teaching both online and in-person these days? Biochemistry professors Felicia Vulcu and Caitlin Mullarkey of McMaster University explain how they teach with Labster using any course delivery format. When Felicia has a face-to-face course, she plays Labster simulations right along with her 160 students as a pre-lab exercise. When Caitlin teaches a 600-student online course, her students use Labster at the end of a module as a way of applying concepts they’ve been learning. Felicia and Caitlin both encourage their students to play Labster as many times as they want in order to master the simulations, and they count their students’ highest Labster quiz scores for grading purposes.”

Gamified Learning and Engagement

Episode 2: Summary

“Are you a science teacher who wants to motivate and engage students with gamified learning while still maintaining academic rigor? We’ll dive into Labster’s learning objectives, use of embedded quizzes, and story-driven missions. SJ tackles techniques for learning with virtual labs and answers the question “is Labster a game or is Labster a serious learning tool?””

Inclusion in the Virtual Lab

Episode 1: Summary

“If you’re curious about what a virtual lab simulation is and how to make it accessible to all students, start with this episode. SJ breaks down Labster’s journey toward inclusive design and shares what you can expect from Labster’s accessibility features and diverse character catalog. Need ideas for how to embed virtual labs within your curriculum? SJ offers some best practices starting with checking for access needs and surrounding the lab with supportive activities.”

Trailer: The Labster Podcast

Episode 0: Summary

The Labster Podcast gives science educators like you a chance to hear from peers who teach with Labster’s virtual labs and other educational technologies. We’ll reflect on learning and curriculum design, and leave you feeling inspired and energized about reaching and teaching your students.

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