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Online microbiology courses are offered at a number of different educational levels and vary greatly in the amount of work required to complete a course. The courses also have great differences in price and quality. Unless a person is taking a microbiology course simply for the love of learning, the most important consideration in choosing an online microbiology course is whether the course will meet the requirements for the overarching educational goal. In most cases, the overall educational goal for a student looking for an online microbiology course is transfer into a health sciences program such as a registered nursing, licensed practical nursing, or lab technology course.
In order to minimize problems with transferring the course, any online course a student is considering should be taken from a regionally accredited institution. In addition, most health sciences programs want core science courses such as microbiology to include a lab component. This is more difficult, but not impossible, to find in an online microbiology course. There are certain activities usually involved in a microbiology lab that are not available through distance learning. For example, culturing bacteria is a common practice in microbiology lab but is not considered a safe at-home activity.
Some schools work around this problem by offering only the classwork portion of the microbiology course online. The student is required to complete the lab component at a local school. This somewhat mitigates the convenience of the online option. Other schools offer at on-home lab by providing rental microscopes and sending students pre-fixed slides for viewing. This might be a better choice for a student who cannot travel to a local school, although it will likely add to the price of the course somewhat.
Another factor students should consider when choosing an online microbiology course is the method the school uses for assessing knowledge. Some schools use an online testing system, usually timed to prevent extensive use of other resource material. Other schools require that students find their own proctor and take an online test with a proctor watching. This can add considerably to the amount of out-of-home time required for the course, so might not be a good choice for students with little flexibility in their schedules.
Finally, when choosing an online microbiology course, student should ask about the number of students in the online class. While a large class size can be difficult for the student needing extra help in a traditional classroom setting, it is even more of an impediment to learning with online education. Also ask if the instructor will be available only by email, or by phone. Ideally, a good online microbiology course will provide an instructor that the student can call for help or with questions during regular scheduled office hours.
There are a number of schools offering a microbiology course completely online including the laboratory. Ocean County College is one of these schools (BIOL 232 Microbiology DL online).
Many of these schools use a LabPaq from Hands-On Labs, Inc. in Colorado. They use the lab kit with a microscope to actually culture harmless microbes to illustrate microbiological techniques.
Other schools offering these courses are CCCOnline and Mid State Technical College in Wisconsin. Microbiology 10-806-197 sec 24063.
So, you can take a fully accredited online microbiology course with the laboratory.
I hope this helps! --WiseProf
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