Virtual laboratories are ICT tools that are becoming more prevalent in classroom education complementing the lack of resources or tutors while enabling anytime-anywhere student participation scenarios. Specifically disciplines such as biotechnology, which are interaction rich, have seen several types of virtual labs. In this paper, we explore an analysis of student feedback post virtual labs sessions suggesting virtual labs improve teaching and learning experiences via user-interactions. Feedback was collected from undergraduate and postgraduate level students belonging to biotechnology programs. We look at two objectives namely perceived usefulness and the role of interactions on the virtual platform and simulators, in addition to animations. Most data were collected using direct approach via organized workshops. This approach allowed us to extract useful information without concerns of sparseness and unsolicited data compared to remote feedback. Our studies on feedback analysis indicate that student users interpret results in animation based virtual labs. However, a larger percentage of users suggest student usage and performance improved only with interactive simulators rather than animations. Although further tests are being performed, our preliminary studies on 200 participants suggest novel virtual labs models must include a simulation or emulations of lab environment in order to enhance student laboratory skills.
R. Radhamani, Hemalatha Sasidharakurup, Dinesh Kumar, Nijin Nizar, Dr. Bipin G. Nair, Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, and Dr. Shyam Diwakar, “Explicit Interactions by Users Form a Critical Element in Virtual Labs Aiding Enhanced Education – A Case Study from Biotechnology Virtual Labs”, in Technology for Education (T4E), 2014 IEEE Sixth International Conference on, 2014.