New technologies have emerged as a response to the COVID-19 epidemic, one of them being the use of virtual laboratories for schools and universities, more specific to the areas of science and engineering. It is known that in these areas theoretical knowledge is as important as practical experience, and because of this need the laboratories had to find a way of still being taught. Since they are so important to the formation of the students a solution was found: the use of virtual laboratories. They allow the student to experience their practices as if they were physically in the lab, and this is important in areas such a physics, were sometimes the concepts are somewhat complicated in theory, but much better understood once you make an experiment and experience the results by manipulating the instruments. In this article we’re going to explore the many benefits of virtual laboratories applied to the field of physics.
The biggest advantage of using a virtual laboratory for chemistry is that we remove the risk of damaging the equipment, and we also remove any accident that could occur to the student or to the personal working there, it also gives every student the opportunity of participating in all the process. Since most laboratory practices are made in teams, not every member of the team would have the same participation in the practice, for example, some student would weigh a component, the other would write the observations, another would wash the equipment and each team member would do a different task, but with the virtual lab the students can be more involved, each one making their own practice without having to worry that if they overuse an element they may end it and there would be no more for the other team, or if they need to heat something on a hot plate, they don’t have to wait all the time for it to heat.
In the field of bio-medicine, exposing students to equipment and tools used in industrial setting is of great importance, this gives them first-hand experience on how these instruments work on a real life scenario, which is crucial for their career development. The use of laboratories is necessary for these reasons and a great way of implementing them is through virtual reality. By given the student a virtual room equipped with the necessary tools, they can easily learn to use the material by interacting with it as if it were a real instrument, which trains them for a real world scenario.
Engineering laboratories are a necessary part of lectures, in order to practice the theoretical concepts in a practical environment, but as state above, the traditional models lack the modernization, cost benefits, and risk mitigation that the technologies in the 21st century have to offer. This new lab model has the advantage that it can be easily updated to be kept up to date with simulations of modern equipment without needing to invest in it. As said before, a combination of the traditional labs and virtual reality ones is the most efficient transition into this new education 4.0.
Building and managing biology laboratories are, to say the least, a difficult task. From basic level like junior high and high school, due to time constraints. To more specialized labs where risks are increased exponentially. The ideal model to embrace the new technologies is a hybrid combination between face-to-face and virtual laboratories. This will mitigate the risk of having all the students at once or frequently using the lab facilities but will give students and professors the opportunity to make a smooth transition into a full virtual laboratory environment.
Mechanical lectures normally test, normal stress, sheer stress, torque, elongation, to name a few. These types of experiments inquire a higher risk of accidents, in comparison to basic labs. By doing it in a virtual environment, the risk of injury is reduced by a 100%, as well as the material wastage. The electrical load required to operate is significantly lower and can positively impact the university´s short to long term expenditures. An ideal scenario for universities, is to reduce costs, by digitalizing their most expensive labs, while keeping the already existing facilities, to make a hybrid transition into the Virtual reality and Augmented reality era.