The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many higher education institutions worldwide to suspend traditional face-to-face teaching and shift to online learning. This has presented many challenges for educators and students alike. In the engineering education sector, an important component of the curriculum is represented by practical, team-based activities such as laboratories and design projects. Laboratories provide an invaluable opportunity for engineering students to develop practical, problem-solving and team-working skills, in addition to deepen understanding of module-specific technical content. One of the main challenges to address during the Covid-19 pandemic and the sudden shift to online learning was therefore how to effectively transition these activities to an online format while preserving the quality of the learning experience and student engagement. This paper presents an innovative approach to deliver a practical team-based first year civil engineering laboratory in an online format. A carefully selected, small scale laboratory kit was delivered to students' homes, and the laboratory activity was redesigned to a certain extent in order to replace laboratory equipment with common household items. The approach includes the use of interactive videos, online quizzes, team meetings through video conferencing platforms. The paper reflects on the challenges and successes in the transition of the laboratory activity to the online format. The lessons learned from this experience can enhance student learning and inform strategies to improve the quality and effectiveness of online engineering education even after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cite as

Amabile, A. 2022, 'Lab at home: an innovative approach for online delivery of a practical civil engineering laboratory during the Covid-19 pandemic', Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education, Glasgow. https://doi.org/10.17868/strath.00082049

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Last updated: 30 May 2023
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