Frog Dissection Goes Virtual

By Francesca Duffy — June 22, 2012 1 min read
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In the Highlands County School District in Sebring, Fla., science teachers are voicing their opposition to the district’s decision to eliminate hands-on-dissections in schools for next year, according to Highlands Today. The district has received a grant that will provide free virtual resources and training for virtual dissections as long as real dissections are no longer practiced in schools.

The district’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction, Rebecca Fleck, outlined the decision at a recent school board meeting, saying that a virtual dissection is “a good, if not a better, learning experience than hands-on dissection.” She argued that errors made by students in real dissections can sometimes ruin the entire experience, and that more high schools and universities across the country are using virtual dissections in their classes.

But David Irwin, a biology teacher in the district, told the paper that the policy change surprised many teachers. He also contended that hands-on activities and real-world applications are the best ways to connect students to the content they are learning. “If you are thinking about going into the medical field, if you don’t figure out early that you don’t know how to do this or you can’t handle it, you have wasted a bunch of time and money in school,” said Irwin. He added that it’s “not as expensive to get specimens as everybody thinks.”

Jenna Hancock, another biology teacher, brought up that her students often grow bored of computers, but enjoy doing hands-on dissections. “We really have to vary it and can’t do everything on a computer or else they are going to get sick of it,” she said.

What is your stance on using virtual dissections over hands-on-dissections in class?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.