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Online Chemistry Courses with Lab Components: How Do They Work?

A physical science, chemistry is often required by many college degree programs. Online education allows students to complete coursework in this field remotely while fulfilling lab requirements either on campus or at home. Explore the online learning methods for various chemistry classes. View article »

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  • 0:00 Online Chemistry…
  • 1:20 Lab Components
  • 2:37 Technology Requirements
  • 3:31 Online Chemistry Course Topics

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Video Transcript

Online Chemistry Course Overview

When deciding whether to enroll in an online chemistry course, it can be helpful to find out about the general format of these courses, the lab component options, and the possible subject areas. Students interested in online chemistry courses can find distance learning options at two-year community colleges and four-year universities. Some online courses in this area of study may be offered to satisfy general education degree requirements or undergraduate major coursework. In other cases, these classes may be provided to distance learners who aren't seeking college credit but just want to build their chemistry knowledge. Options like this are often delivered through schools' continuing education departments or open access programs.

Many online chemistry courses combine coursework with mandatory lab work designed to provide students with hands-on experience. Colleges integrate required assignments or lessons with online or on-campus lab assignments. Online components are typically delivered in an asynchronous manner, which enables the student to attend class at a convenient time and location. Proctored examinations may also be required, which could take place on campus or at an approved facility in the student's area.

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Lab Components

Lab work typically covers key chemistry concepts and gives distance learners an interactive way to understand the material. There are three formats in which online students may complete lab requirements, depending on the course: on campus, online, or at home. Students who select a hybrid or blended learning format combine online coursework with on-campus lab work, which is arranged through the college. Entirely online classes allow students to complete mandatory lab work through online lab simulations and/or hands-on labs conducted at home.

Online lab assignments are completed by logging on to a school's virtual classroom environment to view lessons, introductory material, and instructions for the lab experiment or activity. When working on virtual labs, students use online simulations, often featuring a click and drag interface, while logging the observations and results.

For hands-on labs conducted at home, online chemistry students may be required to purchase lab kits from their schools. These items typically contain lab manuals, activity supplies, and safety equipment. Class message boards or chat rooms may be available to allow students and instructors to discuss the activities and reinforce the material.

Technology Requirements

In order to participate in online chemistry courses, students need to have basic digital literacy skills, such as being comfortable sending emails and using the internet. In addition, they need to have access to certain computer hardware and software. For instance, those in lab simulations need to make sure that the version of their web browser is compatible with the simulation or that they have downloaded the software necessary to run the program. At the most basic level, success in an online chemistry course requires access to a computer with the following features:

  • A recent Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system
  • A certain amount of RAM
  • High-speed internet access
  • Antivirus software
  • Office programs for word documents and spreadsheets
  • Speakers/headphones
  • Webcam
  • CD/DVD drive

Online Chemistry Course Topics

Prospective online students can find courses in general chemistry that are aimed at science majors as well as non-science majors. There are also courses available in a variety of chemistry sub-fields. Some of the options include:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Technology and energy resources
  • Computer applications for chemistry
  • Chemistry of batteries and supercapacitors
  • Biological chemistry
  • Chemistry of living systems

Individuals who are interested in online chemistry courses can find courses that include on-campus labs and courses where lab components are facilitated through online lab simulations or at-home kits.

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