Teachers looking to implement a creative curriculum in their classrooms should consider virtual or remote labs. These resources not only emphasize blended learning but also allow students a means of safely and affordably conducting experiments. Therefore, a virtual lab not only provides students with the opportunity to learn technological skills, but also allows them to develop strong empirical testing methods.
Traditional science labs are often limited by necessary safety precautions and school funding, but thanks to the Internet, schools can now work online with universities and scientific organizations to design experiments from afar. This means educators can create a blended lab environment that allows students to test a variety of hypotheses at a low cost.
One of the main benefits of a virtual lab is that it makes use of media to which most students are already constantly exposed. Digital natives tend to gravitate toward the Internet to conduct research and ask questions, so a virtual lab allows students to positively use those tendencies.
Furthermore, students who are hesitant to engage in classroom activities can potentially become more involved without being put in the spotlight. Instead, these reluctant students can become active lab participants online. Virtual labs generally provide faster test results, making it possible for students to try out many hypotheses and experiment more thoroughly. Moreover, since these labs are online they give students easy access to lab work at home.
A virtual lab should not replace traditional lab work entirely. Blended learning emphasizes the use of both traditional pedagogical methods as well as a focus on technology. Virtual labs can be an important aspect of curriculum integration, but traditional lab work provides students with an interactive forum to discover and learn. Traditional labs are often at risk of being cut by schools due to costs.
However, physical labs offer students an entirely different learning method. Traditional labs are much more tactile, providing students with an immediate sense of control over an experiment. The cost-effectiveness of virtual labs will undoubtedly make them an increasingly popular classroom tool, but without the balance of physical lab work, the digital alternative is potentially less beneficial. As virtual labs become commonplace in the educational sphere, it will be imperative for teachers to emphasize a blended approach.