The 5 Biggest Challenges of Online Classes

Written by SI • March 2, 2022 •  4 min read
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Learn how Science Interactive can help you over come these challenges

Education providers and students have dealt with the many challenges of online classes in the past few years. Still, it seems that the trend of online learning is here to stay. We’re transitioning to a different academic future across the board.

The latest research from the Department of Education states that nearly 52% of students have enrolled in at least one online class in 2020 – compared to just 37% in 2019. Furthermore, the number of students enrolled in distance education courses exclusively increased significantly over this time.


The COVID-19 pandemic forced many universities to take emergency measures and suddenly move to remote learning. Now, post-pandemic, they have the opportunity to adjust their curriculums to a more onlinie learning approach, where the learning experience is specifically designed for online learning,

Still, the challenge of creating effective teaching strategies with online labs can seem insurmountable for science departments. How can science educators re-create in-person learning experiences across computer screens?

Many have reasons to believe that online chemistry, biology, geology, or physics courses may not be as favorable as traditional classes. However, a 2020 study indicated that the majority of surveyed college students found well-done online courses to be equivalent of if not better than in-person learning.

The key is to combat challenges with online classes head-on with tailored solutions and the right technology. This can include a variety of tactics, including the following.

1.    Replicating Hands-On Experiences

Science labs are designed to be a hands-on learning experience where students can see concepts in action. In online lab courses, educators need to offer similar experiences that can be replicated in a home environment. Failing to do so can inhibit the student’s ability to grasp key scientific concepts.

To combat this issue, Science Interactive offers physical lab kits designed to guide students safely through experiments – without the direct supervision of an instructor. We offer an extensive curriculum library with courses and correlating labs for:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Geology
  • General, Organic, and Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Physics

There are undoubtedly advantages to in-person labs that are tricky to translate to online lab experiences. With our lab kits, we provide students with a realistic environment that teaches them the critical hands-on skills they need to succeed. All of Science Interactive’s hands-on kits include lab-quality equipment with materials designed by Ph.D. scientists. This ensures that students can replicate the same learning experience they would have on-campus.

For those professors looking to deliver their curriculum through a variety of modalities, our robust library of lessons also includes digital labs. For example, our V-Scope simulates all the features of a physical microscope and includes a library of over 80 fully-interactive slides ranging from bacteria to fruit flies to skeletal muscles.

We design our curriculum with the flexibility to allow an instructor to offer hands-on, digital or a hybrid of both in a single course.

2.    Creating a Safe Lab Environment At-Home

Another challenge faced when bringing laboratories online is ensuring student safety during lab experiments. Creating labs using equipment and chemicals that are safe for a home environment can be a challenge for institutions and take time for professors to procure. Students must also have access to appropriate protective gear and clear instructions in online labs.

This is where many online science courses miss the mark. At-home labs are often confusing with minimal guidance and little emphasis on safety and procedure.

Furthermore, poorly designed online lessons rarely allow students to make the necessary adjustments or errors in a lab to help them learn. They may also resort to using exclusively online environments which are game-like rather than life-like.

Science Interactive believes that the safety of each student should be paramount in the design of each lab experiment. Before any student can begin a lab, they must complete a lab safety lesson. This includes all of the instructions to create a laboratory environment at home, including best practices for using chemicals and labware, how to address potential hazards, and selecting appropriate clothing and PPE for performing experiments.  and more.

All of our labs are designed with student safety in mind. Each of our chemistry experiments adhere to the guidelines  of the American Chemical Society and are designed to reduce waste, avoid creation of hazardous substances, and limit demand on diminishing resources.

3.    Crafting a Valuable Curriculum That Supports Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is one of the key challenges of online teaching. If students are using the internet to complete courses, they can easily find the answers to test and quiz questions via search engines.

Maintaining academic integrity in an online curriculum is certainly a valid concern. Many instructors worry their courses and answers will pop up on cheating websites. A recent survey from Wiley Research learned that 77% of professors believe that students are more likely to cheat with online courses. Concerns regarding academic integrity were also highest amongst science course instructors for chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and physics.


Instructors also fear that they will need to change their teaching style and be stuck in a pre-written curriculum. This limits their ability to connect with students and control the course to cover concepts they deem to be most important.

Science Interactive aims to combat all of these challenges by ensuring that our curriculum is engaging and academically sound, yet flexible. We are continuously updating our curriculum to combat plagiarism and preserve academic integrity.

We also offer custom course-building tools so that professors can access over 400 lessons to design their own syllabus. We even provide opportunities for an instructor to add text, videos, and images to their curriculum. Science Interactive also recently launched a new feature in our lab management platform SI Cloud that allows a professor to customize or create their own questions in the lessons.

4.    Ensuring User-Friendliness

Transitioning to online courses needs to be a seamless experience for both instructors and students. Effective online teaching strategies require easily accessible content through a program that simultaneously supports a positive learning experience.

With our complete lab solutions, in just four steps, instructors can easily bring their course online in a matter of days. First, you can review the digital content and lab kit materials included in our curriculum. Next, instructors can customize the lab kits to create one that matches your teach objectives. Finally, you will review the pricing based on your selection and then integrate with any LMS (Learning Management Systems) to create the online classroom.

Our system integrates with most LMS platforms, and our support team will work with each instructor to align our lessons with their syllabus and learning objectives quickly.

All of our courses are accessible through the lab management platform SI Cloud . We have designed this tool to be as simple to use as possible for both professors and students. Instructors can incorporate customized tools, such as the Instructor Notes feature to include additional media such as videos or links directly into online lessons.

5.    Making Online Courses Affordable

The cost of integrating online learning systems is another challenge many universities face, especially as budgets are already tight. However, the cost concern should not prevent universities from offering online labs and classes as the costs for students is offset with the removal of commuting, taking time off of work, and more. Universities that fail to adapt to the digital classroom could see a significant drop in enrollment as students actively search for the flexibility provided by online course offerings.

Science Interactive does all it can to ensure that online science courses are affordable – without sacrificing the quality of education. Our distance learning specialists will help you customize your lab lessons to help meet your course budget. We also have an extensive library of core lab packages with digital labs to select from to meet every instructor’s needs and educational goals.

Combatting the Unique Hurdles of Online Learning

There is no doubt that many of the challenges of online classes for science curriculums are significant. Upholding academic priorities while simultaneously supporting both professors and students with comprehensive online tools is imperative.

Science Interactive strives to raise the bar for online learning and science courses. Our lab management platform is designed to be customizable without compromising the learning experience through curated online labs and courses.

Learn more about all of our digital curriculums by contacting Science Interactive. We’re ready to help you start building your customized online course today.