Virtual labs are popularized as a visual education tool that offers diverse analysis of experiments through different components like graphics mediated animations, mathematically modeled simulations, user-interactive emulations, remote-triggered experiments and the use of augmented perception haptic devices. With the advances in ICT-based education, virtual labs have become a novel platform that helps users to engage in their proactive learning process. Our goal was to analyze the effective role of biotechnology virtual labs in improving academic performance of students and complementing classroom education. We tested the adaptability, perceived usefulness and ease of use of biotechnology virtual labs on different user groups in sciences and engineering. This study focuses mainly on the student and teacher groups from different universities across India. Feedback data was collected via a direct approach using organized workshops conducted in the year 2014-2015. 85% of participants suggested perceived usefulness of biotechnology virtual labs helped them to improve their academic performance compared to a traditional classroom scenario. Most users indicated the learning materials provided by virtual lab system were easy to understand, thus suggesting the better adaptability of ICT-enabled techniques amongst different users. This augments the role of virtual labs for remote learners all over the world. For India, such learning methods have helped overcome limitations seen in classroom-based education such as equipment accessibility, location and other economic issues. Through these studies, we construe the usage of virtual labs as a next-gen interactive textbook and as a media-rich learning source of distance and blended education.
Hemalata Sasidharakurup, Dhanush Kumar, R. Radhamani, N. Nizar, Dr. Bipin G. Nair, Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan, and Dr. Shyam Diwakar, “Role of ICT enabled Virtual Laboratories in Biotechnology Education: Case studies on blended and remote learning”, in Proceedings of 18th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning, Florence, Italy, 2015.