The Daily Telegraph
Online learning is no substitute for time in a lab
SIR – Practical classes in the lab are essential for the training of medics, chemists, biologists, physicists and other scientists.
Doing experiments with the appropriate equipment and safety precautions, preparing and examining microscopy specimens, using electrical circuits, measuring quantities, carrying out analytical tests, doing dissections – all of these are necessary parts of training and cannot be done over the internet. Doing something oneself is quite different from seeing recordings.
During my 40 years of teaching genetics at Imperial College London, practicals were very important for teaching techniques and for a full understanding of the lecture material. Even during problem classes in the lab, it was extremely useful for me to circulate to see how each student was coping and to offer help whenever they got stuck or were going wrong.
Restricting students at university and schools to remotely given lectures, with no lab practicals, is a huge deprivation, and will result in a loss of skills and understanding.
Dr Bernard Lamb
Emeritus reader in genetics, Imperial College London