February 29, 2012
In the past six months, 233,570 visitors have accessed the Virtual Labs website.
The visitors came not just from India but also United States, Malaysia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and Pakistan.
Today the site has over 4500 registered users from 134 countries and sees around 100GB of monthly traffic.
The site was developed as part of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). Funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, the initiative seeks to provide easily accessible and high quality education throughout India.
Virtual Labs were formally gifted to the nation on February 23, 2012.
Amrita faculty including Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, Dr. Bipin Nair and Dr. Shyam Diwakar travelled to New Delhi for the launch.
“These virtual labs provide graduate and undergraduate college and institution students with the ability to perform their required laboratory experiments using only the World Wide Web, a standard computer, and an Internet connection,” they shared.
Since the project was launched a couple of years ago, a collection of ninety-one virtual laboratories containing hundreds of experiments were developed in nine disciplines of science and engineering.
Amrita has participated in the development of labs for biotechnology, physics and chemistry. To-date, Amrita has contributed over 125 experiments to this effort. Of these, 80 experiments are in areas of neurophysiology, microbiology, population ecology and biochemistry.
The Dean of the Amrita School of Biotechnology has been appointed as the National Coordinator for all labs of biotechnology and biomedical engineering.
With support from MHRD, Amrita has also architected a collaborative platform for the development of labs that assists faculty all over India with authoring and maintaining the labs. The platform today hosts over 825 experiments developed by several partner institutions.
“The collaborative platform provides the server side architecture for ensuring that virtual labs run securely, can effectively serve thousands of students simultaneously and reserves time slots for experiments that require scheduling,” shared the Amrita faculty.
“The platform also provides tools to help teachers monitor their students’ progress and make changes to the instructional material.”
A series of workshops for teachers in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were organized by Amrita. “We have had phenomenal responses from the teachers on how virtual laboratories can complement their teaching,” shared Dr. Krishnashree, who organized these workshops.
“Nearly 300 department heads, faculty, and staff representing 152 institutions have been trained across India. An important outcome of the workshops has been the creation of over 20 Nodal Centres, institutions who have expressed their interest to champion virtual labs in their geographical areas,” she added.
“With the launch of virtual labs, Indian students will have easy access to an encyclopaedia of science and engineering knowledge presented in a way that is engaging, immersive, and enjoyable. Virtual labs will allow students to explore, discover, and learn wherever they are and at their convenience. The result will be a new generation of Indian students better equipped to meet tomorrow’s challenges today,” she summed up.