What are Virtual and Remote Laboratories?

Virtual and remote laboratories reflect a movement among education institutions to make all the equipments and elements of a physical science laboratory more easily available to learners from wherever they are via the web. Virtual laboratories are web applications that emulate the operation of real laboratories and enable students to practice in a “safe” environment before using real, physical components. Examples include an optical networking virtual lab and a virtual lab for programmable logic controllers. Students can typically access virtual labs 24/7, from wherever they are, and run the same experiments over and over again. Some emerging virtual lab platforms also incorporate reporting templates that populate with the results of the experiments so that students and teachers can easily review the outcomes. Remote laboratories provide a virtual interface to a real, physical laboratory. Institutions that do not have access to certain high-caliber lab equipment can run experiments and perform lab work online, accessing the tools from a central location. Users are able to manipulate the equipment and watch the activities unfold via a webcam on a computer or mobile device. This provides students with a realistic view of system behavior and allows them access professional laboratory tools from wherever they are, whenever they need. Additionally, remote labs alleviate some financial burden from institutions as they can forgo purchasing specific equipment and use the remote tools that are at their disposal.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 This falls under the category of Virtual Worlds, I think.- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013 Not only. Could be in the category of simulators as well.
  • One advantage is cost, especially for under-resourced schools. This allow students to have an virtual experience of the experiements even if they have no physical access to the equipment. - hornmun.cheah hornmun.cheah Mar 6, 2013
  • Virtual labs have nearly the same impact as physical labs -- making the subject real to the student. It's a very important part of showing students the relevance of what they're learning. Properly designed they are motivational as well as improving understanding and retention. Labs are most often associated with science and engineering but they are valuable for math and literacy as well. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Virtual labs can be an important introduction of technique and practice before doing real, physical lab work. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Peter Sand's ManyLabs is getting a lot of attention from the SF Bay Area Maker community, but it is not yet seeing widespread use.
  • The Circuits Simulator embedded in the MIT Circuits MOOC: https://6002x.mitx.mit.edu/ - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013
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