Instead of attending a traditional lab training course, virtual biology labs allow students to complete the same curriculum, but through an online learning platform.
What Is a Virtual Biology Lab?
Virtual biology labs are termed 'virtual' because students do everything on a computer from a remote location, as opposed to completing activities in an actual laboratory. But, like real biology labs, virtual biology labs come fully equipped with learning aids such as pictures, data and microscopes. In some cases, students may need access to a physical microscope to complete assignments.
What Are the Technical Requirements?
There are certain technical requirements for computers running virtual lab software. For example, a computer with a CD-ROM drive is often needed to install the simulation software. Media software such as QuickTime may also be needed to view instructional videos. Computers will probably need a sufficient amount of memory and free space to handle these installations and run the software.
What Do Students Learn?
Students learn the same things they would in a real laboratory. Virtual biology can cover many topics, including the following:
- Cell structure
- Plant evolution
Students also acquire skills relevant to biological research, such as graphing and spreadsheet use. Just as in a traditional classroom, students will also be expected to complete homework and participate in group discussions. Quizzes and exams will be administered online as well.
What Is the Purpose of Virtual Biology Labs?
Sometimes real lab experiences are too expensive, especially for schools with large student populations. Therefore, some schools see virtual labs as an efficient and inexpensive way to teach. They also see it as a way to let students focus on the content of the course, rather than worrying about making mistakes as they might in a real lab. Other schools see virtual labs as a way to link in-class learning with laboratory activities.
Virtual biology labs enable students to explore many biological concepts in a simulated laboratory environment.