What are Virtual and Remote Laboratories?

Virtual and remote laboratories reflect a movement among education institutions to make the equipment and elements of a physical science laboratory more easily available to learners from any location, 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. 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, on the other hand, provide a virtual interface to a real, physical laboratory. Institutions that do not have access to 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 to professional laboratory tools from anywhere, whenever they need. Additionally, remote labs alleviate some financial burden for 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?

  • Access to physical labs are often restricted due to cost and time constraints. With virtual labs you could run experiments from anywhere and any time without additional cost. Most likely you could do more experiments than you usually do today. Remote labs are exiting both from a cost perspective, as this is a shared service, and from the perspective that you probably will have more equipment, and more advanced equipment, in a shared remote lab than in a lab at every school. Experiments you'll never would have been able to locally is within reach. - snorre.lovas snorre.lovas Sep 16, 2013
  • With virtual labs you can do experiments with hazardous and poisonous substances, and keep the pupils safe. Schools have a limited budgets and this could make more experiments available. - jostein.kvisteroy jostein.kvisteroy Sep 17, 2013
  • Laboratory teaching is costly and many laboratory is idle much of the day. Remote labs provide schools with few resources capability to provide advanced lab they will not be able to establish at their own school, and it makes it possible to utilize the lab around the clock. University sector has already adopted this, and K-12 school, mainly upper secondary technical subjects, can benefit greatly from this. Students can use the lab at other times of the day and even at home. Here you can, among other things, have the ability to flip laboratory class. Testing stuff on remote lab at home, discuss at school.- vegard vegard Sep 29, 2013

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

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on Norwegian K-12 education?

  • A lot more hands on experimenting in STEM-subjects - snorre.lovas snorre.lovas Sep 16, 2013
  • It can give pupils a more visual and hands on understanding of the STEM-subjects. - jostein.kvisteroy jostein.kvisteroy Sep 17, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • There is a project in Norway for higher education http://norgesuniversitetet.no/node/4927 This might open up for a project in lower education in the near future. - jostein.kvisteroy jostein.kvisteroy Sep 19, 2013
  • Not in Norway but still interesting: Explore the new and improved version of the Virtual Science Hub (ViSH, http://vishub.org/): virtual excursions around Europe's e-Science infrastructures. ViSH gives access to real e-science applications to schools and helps teachers integrate Science e-Infrastructures into classroom.- morten.soby morten.soby Sep 20, 2013
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  • Not much in Norway. Several interesting projects in Australia. These are linked to the university sector, but some of the projects can be used for advanced lab in technical subjects in upper secondary. Example, Netlab, which can be used in the electronics lab. http://netlab.unisa.edu.au/index.xhtml- vegard vegard Sep 29, 2013

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