students in a classroom

Are Online Sciences Classes Effective?

Distance and online education is growing. In the Fall of 2016, there were over 6 million students taking at least one online course. Clayton Christensen, a business professor at Harvard University, believes that as many as half of American universities will close in the next two decades due to competition from online and distance education. Outside of the classroom, more and more college students are avoiding  academic advising in a face-to-face setting. As there is a greater push for distance education, it raises the question of whether or not these kinds of classes are as effective as a traditional college setting.

Since distance and online education are relatively new topics, or at least new to mainstream popularity, there isn’t an enormous amount of research on this topic. However, there are a few early studies, which suggest online education is as effective, if not more, than a traditional education.

A recent survey conducted by the Learning House asked 1,500 students who engaged in online education their thoughts on their experiences. From this survey, 86% of the respondents thought that the degree they received was equal or greater in value than the tuition they paid. So from a student perspective, it has a good return on investment! Furthermore, 85% of the respondents thought that their online education was as good as or better than a traditional setting. Looking at this, students clearly value online education.

However, just because students perceivably like online more traditional, it does not mean it is necessarily a better education. Luckily, there are a few studies which can clue us in on this, as well. A study done in 2004 at the University of Connecticut found that students taking food safety courses in a distance setting did as well as students in the traditional setting. This was determined by looking at performance from students in both groups, while also looking at factors like time spent studying, language barriers, etc. Furthermore, research done by professors at MIT, Harvard, and China’s Tsinghua University, found that students taking massive open online courses (MOOC) learn just as much as students in a traditional setting, regardless of their prior knowledge of the material.

So far the signs look pretty good for the effectiveness of online classes. However, Teachnology brings up a fair point when considering the effectiveness of online education. Education is a give-and-take experience. Many students will get out of it what they put in. This is true in a traditional format, as well as a distance format. A lazy student in a traditional setting may not do much better in an online or distance setting. However, there are also many different learning styles depending on the person. For some, a traditional education may be better for their learning need, while for others online education is an obvious choice.

blue sky

What is the HOLCloud?

The future of education is in accessible technology. In 2016, public schools in the United States were already spending over $3 billion per year in creating and providing digital content to students. Clay Christenson, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, believes that as much as half of American universities run the risk of closure or bankruptcy due to competition from distance and digital education alternatives. Paired with the rising costs in traditional college education in the United States, students are certainly already looking for alternatives.

This is why we developed our cloud platform. We can see that the future is in accessible technology, and we want to help universities get there. Hands-On Labs has always been devoted to distance education and developing a great curriculum for students and professors to reach their goals. Originally, we would deliver our labs through hard copy documents and PDFs. However, now we fully embrace a digital platform!

“Essentially, the HOLCloud is an online delivery mechanism for our curriculum,” says Dr. Duane Cagle, our on-site scientist and product solutions consultant, “we developed the cloud in the summer of 2016, and instructors couldn’t be happier with results.”

What Does HOLCloud Look Like?

The HOLCloud on the student side is incredibly straight forward. When students login, they will have a dashboard for their course, which will display the pre-requisites and lessons. All lessons are locked until the prerequisites are completed and the student has received their lab materials to enter in their kit code.HOLCloud Class List

In the lessons, students will go through different phases: exploration, experimentation, and evaluation. Our exploration section contains targeted background content meant to prepare students to perform the experiment in the next section. Our experimentation section guides the student through their lab exercise and in using their materials. This is the bulk of the student’s lesson. Below you will find an image of what this section generally looks like:

Example of HOLCloud Lesson

Lastly, there is the evaluation section, which tests the student knowledge over a given subject. This section comes with true or false questions, matching questions, and open response answers. The students will receive immediate feedback on all their answers except for the open response answers, which are graded by the instructor. Also, this is where the student uploads all their data from the lab.

On the instructor side, you have many different areas in which you can see all your students’ progress in their course. Below you will see an example of our most basic dashboard:

Example of HOLCloud Dashboard

What Can HOLCloud Do?

HOLCloud can do a lot that makes both the student’s and the instructor’s life much easier. Below we look at some of its key functions:

  1. It integrates with most Learning Management Systems.
  2. Instructors can easily customize their lessons with additional notes, images, and videos.
  3. New courses can be set up in almost an instant.
  4. An easy to use gradebook for instructors to keep track of their students’ progress in the course(s).

These are our most favorite aspects of our cloud platform because we think it is what makes it unique. However, if you are an instructor, we would love to show it to you directly! Set up a free demo with one of our sales associates today!

Request a Demo!

Edcor: V-Scopes Bring Science to Life and Help Students Save Money

HOL Virtual Microscope Example

V-Scopes are designed to replicate the experience of using an actual microscope through virtual controls that allow students to focus, manipulate slides, and change magnification in real time, according to Marc LaBella, Associate Professor of Biology/e-Learning Lecturer at Ocean County College. Additionally, any difficulties that students might encounter, such as regulating light or centering a specimen in their field of view, are also part of this virtual microscope experience.

Read the Full Story on Edcor’s Website.

Hands-On Learning Unveils Revolutionary Educational Software

Introducing HOLcloud, the first web-enabled educational platform designed to reduce instructors’ workload while increasing the effectiveness of instruction. HOLcloud offers interactive educational content, full web ADA compliance, and seamless collaboration between a school’s Learning Management System (LMS), students, professors, and course content.




HOLcloud is the only interactive digital courseware that is ADA compliant and that fully integrates with your existing LMS.

Hands-On Learning today introduced HOLcloud, the first web-enabled educational platform designed to reduce instructors’ workload while increasing the effectiveness of instruction. HOLcloud offers interactive educational content, full web ADA compliance, and seamless collaboration between a school’s Learning Management System (LMS), students, professors, and content using LMS Connect. HOLcloud gives instructors’ access to the modern tools required to easily, intuitively, and effortlessly provide the best online educational experience to their students. HOLcloud comes with instructor selectable features such as a student dashboard, analytic tools, automatic grading, single sign-on, interactive assessments, and many other unique tools that will reduce the educator’s time spent on non-teaching activities. HOLcloud and all of its features are available now for classes starting in January 2017.

“HOL is changing the way online education is conceived, consumed and taught throughout the world,” said Kevin Melendy, CEO. “HOLcloud allows an entirely new way of delivering content online in a more conducive, intuitive, and engaging way than ever before. This is the first educational tool ever developed to facilitate the instructors’ experience. We are proud to offer a platform that gives educators the greatest possible gift: time. With these tools readily available, instructors can now spend their time conducting their class versus getting bogged down with mundane and repetitive tasks.”

HOLcloud utilizes a simple, user-friendly interface that allows instructors and students to easily access and navigate the content. HOLcloud’ s multitude of features such as auto grading reduce instructor time spent on busy work so they can better facilitate their course. Built-in analytical tools help instructors to easily offer early intervention when remediation is needed. Authoring capabilities will give instructors control over the content. Built-in videos and interactive assessments promote student engagement and consequently increase retention.

HOLcloud complements all Hands-On Labs’ products to provide an all-in-one solution. Hands-On Labs has been providing the most advanced laboratory kits for distance learning in higher education for over 20 years. With the introduction of HOLcloud, institutions all over the world are going to be able to use Hands-On Labs content with ease of delivery and instruction. HOLcloud allows instructors to teach and students to learn anytime, anywhere, on any web-enabled device.

The HOLcloud platform has been designed with all institutional needs in mind. It is the only interactive digital learning platform that provides WCAG 2.0 AA compliance. HOLcloud allows institutions to utilize Hands-On Labs content in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Federal Regulations.

To learn more about HOLcloud and to schedule a demo please visit

Hands-On Learning is the world leader in science distance learning. HOL pioneered the way education is conceived and delivered around the world, regardless of location, time zone, or device. Hands-On Labs is a division of Hands-On Learning and produces online science lab kits that include modern pedagogy, cloud-based learning platforms, and hands-on lab experiments that mirror the classroom laboratory. HOLcloud provides the interactive, cloud-based platform needed to deliver this content, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Future technology

Are You Ready? Here are Top 10 Skills for The Future

Are You Ready?  Here are Top 10 Skills for The Future.

by Reuven Gorsht – Forbes


As technology evolves, our ability to adapt to technology changes in the workplace has to increase at the same rate. In this article, you will be able to find skills that you will need in the work force in the future. The article was written in May 2014 so many of the things spoken about are in play now.  Learning the skills that the evolving world require is necessary to be successful.

This article lays out 10 very important skills that you should know.  Those 10 skills are: Sense making, Social Intelligence, Novel and Adaptive Thinking, Cross-Cultural Competencies, New Media Literacy, Transdisciplinary, Design Mindset, Cognitive Load Management, and Virtual Coloration.  All of these are talked about in depth and laid out for the consumer.  It’s a strong article that can be beneficial to anyone who reads… Are you ready for the future?

Read the full article here