The DryLabs movement: communities of professionals helping each other prepare for online labs

Ashleigh Steele
November 10, 2021
#DryLabs20 twitter handle

When the reality of the restrictions under coronavirus on higher education became clear, university teachers quickly rallied to move their teaching and assessments online. It was a steep learning curve for all, but the use of video lectures, tutorials and online exams became the new normal for everyone.

However, shifting laboratory-based course components online brought additional challenges, and collaboration across universities became part of the solution. In late April, a group of Chemistry teaching professionals led by Dr Craig Campbell and Dr Malcolm Stewart at the University of Oxford, set up an online meeting and invited interested parties to join them to discuss the challenges of teaching laboratories online.

So was born the #DryLabs20 movement. The first online meeting was attended by 200 people from across the world. Ideas and resources were shared and common challenges identified. It was so popular that new technology had to be employed to allow a bigger meeting second time round when everyone agreed they wanted to meet regularly.

Since then, further communities and websites have been set up to help higher education teaching professionals from various science disciplines that provide a professional space for collaboration and discussion:



Dr Nigel Francis (Swansea University), Professor Ian Turner (University of Derby) and Dr David Smith (Sheffield Hallam University)



Dr Dino Spagnoli (University of Western Australia)

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering Hybrid Laboratories

Dr Thomas Rodgers (University of Manchester) and the Institution of Chemical Engineers


Physics LTHE

Dr Helen Vaughan (University of Liverpool) and the Institute of Physics

LearnSci has been involved in many of these meetings, presenting directly or supporting some of our partners who have demonstrated their use of LearnSci LabSims and Smart Worksheets.

If you are struggling with preparations for online labs for the new academic year contact us to see how we can help. In addition, if you are looking for like-minded professionals experiencing the same challenges, you can contact the relevant communities via their direct websites and contacts.

Publication: #DryLabs20: A New Global Collaborative Network to Consider and Address the Challenges of Laboratory Teaching with the Challenges of COVID-19.

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