Blended learning has been popularized in many universities in the last decade due to the rapid advances in computer technologies and relative increase in the usage of internet connectivity. A major constraint in providing high quality laboratory resources in some universities and in economically challenged countries is high costs, training personnel, training time and maintenance-related issues. Virtual and remote labs complement the real laboratory resources with virtually defined techniques including simulations, animations, remote triggering of the actual equipment and videos that facilitate user interactions. Our goal was to analyze the effectiveness of biotechnology virtual labs in integrating learning process among school and university students of ages 12-15 years and 17-24 years respectively within India. These labs were developed as part of a National mission on Education through ICT. We also focused on the use of virtual and remote labs as a new pedagogy for distance and mobile learning courses and the context of usage outside scheduled classroom timings. The evaluation of biotechnology virtual labs was performed via surveys, including online and manual feedback reports for analyzing the learning process of various student groups. Studies amongst students of different age groups suggested that virtualization helped their active learning in a traditional classroom scenario. Feedback from student users also indicated virtual and remote labs aided, mobile learning by improving their academic performance, after using virtual and remote labs (post usage) as education platform. Feedback statistics showed 90% of students used biotechnology virtual lab techniques and that helped them to get an actual feel of the experiment. All participants scored more than 70% in the post-test, improving the class average from the pre-test scenario. 91% of teachers who participated in the workshops indicated that they could use virtual and remote labs in their daily teaching pro- ess as teaching material thereby reducing their lecture preparation time. Feedback analysis also indicated improved student performance enhancing laboratory education.
Rakhi Radhamani, Hemalatha Sasidharakurup, Dhanush Kumar, Nijin Nizar, Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, Dr. Bipin G. Nair, and Dr. Shyam Diwakar, “Role of Biotechnology simulation and remotely triggered virtual labs in complementing university education”, in 2015 International Conference on Interactive Mobile Communication Technologies and Learning (IMCL), Thessaloniki, Greece, 2015.