Virtual labs are defined as a virtual teaching and learning environment aimed at developing students’ laboratory skills. They are one of the most important e-learning tools. They are located on the Internet, where the student can conduct many experiments without any constraints to place or time, in contrast to the constraints of real labs.
It also provides many advantages to the teacher. With virtual labs, teachers don’t have to go to the lab at certain times and move from place to place to prepare the experiment. This saves plenty of effort and time; one of the most important goals of e-learning.
It has been used in many universities and schools around the world to keep up with the technological development we are witnessing in the digital age, which is reflected in various forms in the fields of distance learning and e-learning.
As for the applications of technology in the field of education, there are many benefits that can be mentioned. There are also many obstacles facing the spread of these technological applications.
In this article, we will talk about the benefits and constraints of using virtual labs in the educational process.
13 Benefits of using virtual labs in education:
1- Virtual labs enable students to perform many experiments that are difficult to perform in real laboratories because of the risks.
2- Virtual labs help teachers and students save time and effort because they don’t need to adhere to certain times to enter the lab, or to move from one place to another.
3- Virtual labs enable students and teachers to use the latest technologies.
4- Virtual Labs help users keep up with the technological development of the digital age.
5- Virtual labs allow students to perform the practical experiments related to the theoretical courses, which helps them absorb the courses.
6- The virtual lab provides enjoyment during experiments.
7- Virtual labs help students perform the experiment more than once.
8- Virtual labs protect students and teachers from hazards, given there is no direct contact with toxic or radioactive chemicals and there is no handling of explosive devices or electricity.
9- Virtual labs provide the convenience of changing the inputs and transactions used in the experiment without worrying about any dangerous effects of these changes.
10- Virtual labs allow students to stay in touch with the Internet, which helps them search and gather information during the experiment.
11- Virtual Labs enable students to record results electronically and share them with others to exchange experiences.
12- Virtual Labs provide teachers with the opportunity to follow up and evaluate students electronically.
13- Virtual labs provide flexibility in performing experiments.
3 impediments to use virtual labs:
1- They require computer devices with high specifications in order to simulate the exact phenomena with full details and create a three-dimensional virtual lab.
2- They require professional programmers with strong skills in different programming languages. They also require a team of experts in the scientific material, teachers, and experts in psychology.
3- One of the negative effects of Virtual Labs is that it reduces the direct interaction between students and each other, and between students and teachers, given that the communication between them is electronically most of the time.