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Practical work at the Open University of the Netherlands


Achieving practical objectives in an open distance educational system is a real challenge. Its philosophy requires self-instructional materials that students can study at their own time, place, and pace. Practical work, in particular laboratory work, can test the limits of this philosophy. A new way of thinking about practical work and modern electronic media make it possible to develop a natural sciences degree program with a minimum amount of laboratory sessions and, hopefully, to pursue practical aims which are useful in the student's later profession. The way the Open University of the Netherlands has been developing a practical program according to these starting points is discussed in the first part of this paper. Examples of alternatives for traditional practical work are described in more detail in the second part. Advantages and disadvantages with regards to traditional practical work are discussed.

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Correspondence to Paul A. Kirschner.

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Meester, M.A.M., Kirschner, P.A. Practical work at the Open University of the Netherlands. J Sci Educ Technol 4, 127–140 (1995).

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Key words

  • Practicals
  • laboratories
  • natural sciences
  • Open University
  • distance education
  • electronic media