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Virtual Laboratories

Page history last edited by gonzalezamarco@csupomona.edu 9 years, 3 months ago




     Virtual laboratories, or virtual labs, are an engaging and simulating way for students to learn interactively.  Laboratories can be used in a variety of ways.  They can be used in science, math, language arts and all other subject matters.  The possibilities for virtual labs are endless.

     Virtual labs include 3D and flash animation, which multimedia designers or programmers, create.  To create a more stimulating interactive environment a pedagogical agent is created in the virtual lab.   This agent, or character, helps the user preform any functions necessary.  This feature is similar to the Microsoft Word "agent" that helps users sort through the basics of word processing.  Virtual labs allow teachers to simulate any type of venture that the students would otherwise be unable to preform in a traditional classroom setting.  For example, most middle schools do not supply their science departments with appropriate chemicals and materials. 

     By using a simulation in a virtual lab, teachers can teach the concept without having to depend on materials and chemicals. Of course, it is always better to preform a lab than simulate it, but this offers an alternative versus the activity being completely eliminated due to the lack of appropriate materials.  In virtual labs, students are able to share data and collaborate with each other using these simulations.  These simulations are not limited to one person, but can include a whole classroom of users (Alexander, 2004)


The following is an example of a virtual laboratory:



The following video shows software (open-source) that is used to create and develop virtual laboratories:




Edusim is an example of software that is available for educators and instructors to use to create 3D worlds.  These worlds can be almost anything and 3D images can be taken from Google3D.  This can be used to create a world based on any subject area for example, the Human Heart, chemical reactions and Algebra.


Another way virtual laboratories are being used is through the 3D virtual world, Second Life.  Universities, such as the University of Leicester, have virtual labs to acquaint their undergraduate students with lab equipment and the lab environment.



All of these modalities help the students or instructors plan appropriately.  These virtual simulations provide another dimension of learning that will enhance every area of learning for students.  Such programs should properly apply the ADDIE model and fit the demographic population it is being created for.   The possibilities for virtual reality are just being touched and it is barely finding its way in education and the world at large. 


Some students are unable to access a formal education, while others may lack the motivation or engagement.  These virtual laboratories allow students to learn at their own pace and give them ownership of their education.  With the advancement of these virtual realities you can now: connect to the internet, check email, send and receive messages, enter virtual classrooms, take digital pictures, record and edit video. All of these task can be done from one virtual laboratory (Banks, 2008).


Here are some links that would be of interest to anyone using 3D simulation:










Alexander, B. (2004). Going Nomadic: Mobile Learning in Higher Education.Educause Review, 39 (5), 28-35. bdraprojects. (2010).

SWIFT- completed virtual genetics lab [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMMfHZUNpZY

Banks, K. (2008). Mobile Learning in Developing Countries: Present Realities and  Future Possibilities. In S. Hirtz, & D. M.Harper (Eds.), Education for a Digital   World:Advice, Guidelines, and Effective Practice from Around the  Globe  (pp. 51- 56),Vancouver, Canada: Commonwealth of Learning.



Comments (1)

Teresa Tang-Quick said

at 6:43 pm on Apr 27, 2011

2nd editor checking in! I added the section about Second Life, embedded the video from YouTube, and added it as a reference.

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