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Experience Virtual Biology With Online Biology Courses

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 7/31/2009

If you're wondering what might be involved in online biology courses, then this is just what you need. This article will tell you what to expect from the course and let you know what is expected from you as a student.

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    Some students get into a science course with a mistaken impression of the subject matter at hand, which leads to confusing things like physical science with earth science and biology with chemistry. That's why this section is here. To give a refresher on what is involved in biology.

    Biology is the study of life. That means studying cell makeup, the signs of life, ways life is organized, genetics, the structure of life and other basic concepts such as these. Now that you have an idea of what biology is all about, let's move on to how it is studied online.

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    Online Biology Courses

    Do you remember filling in diagrams of cells and categorizing organisms? Well, this is still done in online biology courses, but the format is a bit different and, of course, some of the courses vary based on what format the teacher likes to use.

    One of the biggest questions is whether or not there are labs in these courses. Well, yes there are. The advancements in technology have made it possible to do labs online, but some instructors till prefer to do "real life" labs. Then there are some that like to mix things up a bit as well and do both. Here's how to tell what types of labs you can expect from the course.

    • If you need to order a biology kit, then chances are good that there are going to be some in-depth labs that will involve looking at the way chemicals respond to each other and even do some observation through a microscope.
    • If you don't need a lab kit, but there are labs in the syllabus, then you will be doing some simple labs at home as well as possibly doing labs in an online lab or similar online format. These are usually simple and easy to do. Most of your work on these labs will be based on your record of observation, which is the basis of science in general.

    Most instructors will want to assign one or two essays throughout the semester. There is usually a good variety of topics to choose from, giving the student some flexibility. Tests vary by instructor. Some instructors insist on proctored tests while others will allow you to take your tests at home while giving a time limit on the test and expecting you to abide by the academic laws.

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    Biology Students

    Now that you know what you can expect from online biology courses, what do they expect from you? Like many online courses, the instructor is required to do an alternate form of taking attendance. Since you aren't sitting in a classroom so that the instructor can actually see you, they will most likely use the discussion board as a check in. Most instructors will ask a question and will require students to post their response to the question, then to comment on one or two of the other students' responses.

    You will be expected to complete your labs, homework and tests in a timely manner. Some instructors are very flexible and allow you to work ahead while others will clearly state that they do not want this. If they do not want you to work ahead and you submit your work early, expect it to be deleted.

    If you're taking an online biology course and you have any kind of problems, be sure to let your instructor know. Save your work on a removable format because most instructors will not take an excuse for homework being turned in late based on technological problems and clearly state this in the syllabus.