Hands-On Labs Wins
Education Innovation of the Year
at 2019-2020 Cloud Awards

Hands-On Labs has been declared the winner of the Education Innovation of the Year award this week in the international Cloud Computing Awards program, the Cloud Awards.

HOL won for its innovative and intuitive HOL Cloudan advanced e-learning platform specially designed to provide a tactile lab experience for distance learners. With powerful gradebook analytics and modern higher-ed pedagogy, the HOL Cloud is designed to help instructors easily facilitate their online lab science course. It offers a comprehensive library of pre-existing lessons, as well as a  custom-lesson authoring tool that allows educators to build their own course content. The HOL Cloud is an unparalleled e-learning platform that is redefining the laboratory learning landscape.

Cloud Award Logo for the Winner of the 2019-2020 Cloud Awards

Established in 2011, the Cloud Awards is an international program which recognizes and honors industry leaders, innovators, and organizational transformation in cloud computing. The awards are open to large, small, established, and start-up organizations from across the entire globe, with an aim to find and celebrate the pioneers who will shape the future of the Cloud as we move into 2020 and beyond.

Categories for the 2019-20 awards include “Security Innovation of the Year,” “Best Software as a Service,” and “Most Promising Start-Up.”

“Hands-On Labs is a deserving winner in this year’s Cloud Awards program, not merely showing a dedication and commitment to excellence, but one fueled by an unmatched passion for innovation,” said James Williams, Head of Operations for the awards. “Making the shortlist alone was a significant achievement, because remarkably, the standard still gets higher year-on-year. Judging is incredibly difficult, and with the addition of extra materials showcasing client successes and testimonials, it’s never been clearer to see how intelligent use of cloud technologies has made so much more possible in business.”

Hundreds of organizations entered the awards program, with entries coming from across the globe, covering the Americas, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. You can view the full shortlist here.

Science Interactive Group Partners With Odigia to Transform Distance Science Learning Through Open Educational Resources (OER)

Science Interactive Group (SIG), the parent company of Hands-On Labs, recently announced a partnership with Odigia, the leading learner engagement platform for higher education institutions. Odigia improves student engagement and empowers educators with an easy-to-use learning platform that includes a deep repository of customizable open educational resources (OER) content. This OER library offers instructors the tools, data, and flexibility needed to ensure students learn from the most relevant and engaging materials possible. Odigia provides a dynamic and personalized learning experience supported by both learner and content analytics, allowing deep insight into what is working best and how to help students succeed.

The new partnership will cover 10 disciplines and more than 1,100 ADA-compliant lab activities. By combining its lab kits and digital content with Odigia’s platform and comprehensive open educational resources library, HOL will continue to empower higher education institutions with highly engaging online science curricula and lab-grade materials. 

The partnership will be fully deployed and available to more than 900 SIG post-secondary institutions by the fall semester of 2020, though many resources will be available beforehand. 

5 Ways the HOL Cloud Promotes Academic Integrity

Picture this: a 35-year-old, over-caffeinated biology student sits down at her computer to write up a lab report. She’s just gotten home from her 9-to-5, and knows she only has a couple hours to complete this assignment before picking up her son from hockey practice. Panicking under the time crunch coupled with the pressure to maintain the 3.25 GPA required to keep her scholarship, she starts to look for shortcuts. She opens a new tab, does a quick google search for similar reports, copies, and pastes. 

Setting the Online Stage for Success

This is the sort of scenario many faculty members worry about when switching to an online course. Every professor has had to deal with cheaters, those pesky students that are always looking for ways to bypass the work and get an easy A. With the increased stress today’s college students experience, the temptation to take shortcuts also increases — even for otherwise responsible learners. By relinquishing the control that comes with commanding a face-to-face classroom, educators might be concerned that they are only inviting more opportunities for academic dishonesty.

At HOL, we’ve found the opposite to be true: when you give students more authority over their education, they tend to take more responsibility for their own learning. That said, there will always be those students who look for an out, so we’ve made sure to anticipate those individuals when designing our lessons and experiments. Here are five tools you can use to ensure academic integrity among your students while teaching with the HOL Cloud:

  1. Evaluation Lockout

Each experiment on our platform contains three unique sections: Exploration, Experimentation, and Evaluation. In the Exploration section, a student examines the learning objectives while identifying what they already know and what they don’t yet understand. After conducting the experiment in the second section, they move on to the Evaluation, a final assessment that grades them on what they’ve learned. While a student in the Experimentation section is free to toggle back to the Exploration to review the key concepts of the lab, once a student begins the Evaluation, they will be locked out of the previous two sections. This prevents them from directly looking up answers and ensures that their Evaluation score accurately represents their understanding of the content. 

  1. Lab Kit Codes

Professors always want to know that students are doing their own work, following a hands-on experiment themselves instead of sitting idly by while someone else works through the procedure. So while students in a face-to-face, supervised lab facility generally work with partners or groups, distance-learning students should always be conducting their experiments independently. To ensure that this is the case, we equip every lab kit with a unique code that a student must enter into the HOL Cloud before it allows them to begin the experiment. 

  1. TurnItIn

We encourage educators to utilize TurnItIn, a plagiarism detection program that analyzes student work for unoriginal content. Every time a student submits a lab report, TurnItIn checks it against a database of similar content. According to Marc LaBella, a professor who used HOL to transform Ocean County College into a premier e-learning institution, you can always attribute 50–60 percent of the TurnItIn score to HOL content since the system will pick up on the lab template. But if the TurnItIn report shows up with a significantly higher percentage, you can conclude that the student likely clipped their responses from an outside source.

  1. Uniqueness of Report Score

In addition to using TurnItIn, we encourage educators to safeguard against plagiarism by assigning a score to the originality of a student’s report. All of our rubrics include a “Uniqueness of Report” section, so a professor can assess whether a student’s work is their own or they borrowed from a fellow classmate. Knowing that their grade will be affected if their lab resembles that of one of their peers, students will be encouraged to complete their assignments independently.

  1. Photograph Upload

Throughout the experiment, students are required to upload photographs of themselves conducting the lab. Not only does this prove that they actually did the experiment as opposed to simply clicking through the instructions, it allows the professor to ascertain whether or not the student worked independently. If two students submit photos from the same room and only one kit is visible, the instructor can figure out that they didn’t each conduct their own experiment. 

An unrelated bonus to the photo-upload feature is that it allows professors to see the ways in which conducting experiments at home benefits their students. LaBella said that in the photos submitted by older students, he often can see the students’ children looking on in awe as their parents make scientific discoveries. “Younger kids love to watch their parents learning,” he said. “It’s a uniqueness of the fact that they’re doing the labs at home.”

The New Global Education Environment: How HOL Is Pushing the Evolution of Online Science Labs

As Marc LaBella and Dr. Jim Brown have discovered with their work at Ocean County College, online learning for lab science is more than just possible; it’s beneficial — to students and instructors alike. Through the independence of at-home lab kits and the interactivity of LMS discussion forums, science students are becoming more engaged. No longer content to simply sit quietly and soak up lecture notes, students are taking an active role in their education, building a strong and complex learning network between themselves, their peers, and their professors.

View and download the case study here!