The North American Network of Science Labs Online (NANSLO)

The North American Network of Science Labs Online (NANSLO) was a consortium of online science laboratories, each located at an accredited U.S. or Canadian institution, administered at WICHE. NANSLO operated from 2011 to 2016.

NANSLO provided students access to real science laboratories through an online interface to scientific equipment, enabling them to conduct tasks and collect data for assigned lab activities. Supported by a live lab technician and bolstered by teleconference and video streaming capabilities, NANSLO facilitated cross-institutional collaboration among student teams and gave them access to scientific processes, insights, and equipment not physically available to them. .

NANSLO served over 2,000 Colorado, Montana, and British Columbia community college students. Students appreciated the platform’s flexibility in lab-time scheduling and its ability to promote collaboration. Instructors lauded the tool’s ability to help students complete science curricula and mitigate strain on physical laboratories. NANSLO fostered 28 original lab activities (tailored for its online setting) for introductory biology, chemistry, and physics courses, as well as chemistry and biology lab manuals available through the Creative Commons licensing framework. Automated scheduling systems and processes designed for the project were also found highly effective and convenient.

NANSLO funding originated from a Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) grant (2010-11), and expanded between 2012 and 2016 thanks to a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant to the Consortium for Healthcare Education Online (CHEO). Though the platform remained robust as the TAACCCT grant concluded, its transition from grant funding to a fee-based service model was not possible in the timeframe available. Though NANSLO has discontinued operations, many resources related to the establishment and operation of this project remain available through SkillsCommons and search for NANSLO.

Man having video chat with doctor on laptop at home

“It was really interesting doing a lab activity in a laboratory in Colorado, even though I was in Alaska.”