Zalaznik, M. (2014) Online labs evolve University Business, May
This article reports on the following developments in online labs:
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has created an online ‘crash lab’ for students taking a Master of Aeronautical Science program. Through the online lab, students can examine ‘all the procedures leading up and through [an] accident.’ The lab, developed in partnership with Unity, uses high quality graphics and elements of video-gaming, to develop a range of skills. The next project will be to develop a virtual robotics lab where students will design and fly unmanned aircraft
- Arizona State University is offering a fully online Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering for approximately 200 students. Students will use low cost hardware kits that enable them to build and test circuits, in conjunction with software on their computers that enable measurements to be made on a simulated oscilloscope. Online students take the same exams as the students on campus. The online program is taken mainly by older, more experienced students.
- Henderson Community College, Kentucky, combines home kits and real materials such as sheep hearts and bacteria with a learning management system to do experiments remotely. The kits are produced by eScience Labs and Pearson provides a biology lab that contains a virtual microscope
- The NANSLO project, which was reported in detail here: Can you teach lab science via remote labs?
Why is the use of online labs increasing?
The article suggests the following reasons for the growth of online labs:
- a shortage of real lab equipment and facilities, especially for general science students
- online labs require fewer instructors and can make greater use f teaching assistants
- its most suitable for non-science majors who don’t need to know how to run a lab or how to operate all the equipment in a lab
- online labs give more leeway to design their own experiments
- students can make and learn from mistakes in virtual labs
- online labs are being used in conjunction with on campus facilities, enabling more productive use of limited physical resources.
The article provides a very useful set of links to these projects.