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Designing Web-Based Training: How to Teach Anyone Anything Anywhere Anytime by William Horton

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6.13. Virtual laboratory

A virtual laboratory provides an on-screen simulator or calculator that learners can use to test ideas and observe results.

6.13.1. When to use virtual laboratories

In a virtual laboratory, learners can try all kinds of experiments without risk of damaging equipment or injuring themselves, fellow learners, or lab technicians. They can also conduct experiments not possible in even the most generously funded real laboratory. Use virtual laboratories:

  • To prepare learners to use real laboratories. Virtual laboratories prepare learners for efficient work in real labs [98]. Virtual labs can start as simple, limited representations of the real lab. As learners master simple experiments, the lab can reveal more controls and variables so that in the end the virtual lab has the same richness and range of experimentation as the real laboratory.

  • Instead of real laboratories. You can also use virtual laboratories to replace real laboratories. Once built, virtual laboratories have no additional costs for supplies, maintenance of equipment, or replacement of broken parts. Learners do not have to drive (or fly?) to the laboratory. Virtual laboratories are never crowded, never closed, and never broken. They never blow up.

  • For abstract experiments. Virtual laboratories are not limited to simulating real laboratories. With a virtual laboratory, learners can swap the orbits of planets, tinker with the global economy, or create a hybrid of a peanut and a panda. Use virtual ...

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