The world is now witnessing what can be described as the technological invasion of all fields of life. It is the result of the unprecedented advances in scientific and technological fields throughout history. This new age of technology has helped us use digital devices in many fields, including education. This has also helped spread e-learning platforms and distance education. One way technology has benefited education is the emergence of virtual labs. Virtual labs are virtual environments designed for various experiments, through which the real science lab is simulated and links the practical side to the theoretical side.
All students have the freedom to do the experiments without a supervisor and without exposure to any kind of danger. This is done through computer applications that cover all fields of science. This saves a lot of effort and time for students and teachers. Teachers can prepare experiments at any time. Students are protected from directly handling dangerous chemicals and devices.
Many Universities and schools have started to use virtual labs because of their benefits.
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Which Institutions and Individuals Need Virtual Labs:
Virtual lab users only need computers with suitable capabilities, and need to be connected to the Internet so the user can work on all the experiments. This is one of the advantages of virtual labs as computers and digital devices have become available and spread in schools, universities, and homes.
15 Advantage of Virtual Labs:
1- Help solve the problem of limited resources and funding for experiments.
2- Protect students from the dangers they face during while conducting some dangerous laboratory experiments. It eliminates the need to deal with toxic or radioactive chemicals and other hazards such as electrical connections, etc. Subsequently, it is an effective way to avoid laboratory accidents.
3- Ability to display very accurate phenomena and results that may not be measurable using simple laboratory tools and that require complex and expensive equipment.
4- Help the teacher cover all aspects of the course curriculum with practical applications and help the student understand all the points of the course curriculum; which is difficult to provide in the case of limited equipment and funding.
5- Provide the synchronization between the process of explaining the theoretical ideas and practical application, just as real laboratory experiments are linked to theoretical lectures.
6- Help students and teachers study and prepare laboratory experiments at any time and place.
7- The student is able to conduct the same experiment several times according his/her ability to absorb the information. This is generally difficult to provide in a real laboratory in the case of limited material and and the lack of equipment in proportion to the numbers of students.
8- The student is given the opportunity to control the inputs of the experiment, change the different transactions, and observe the changes in the results without the existence of a supervisor and without being exposed to any risks.
9- Provide cooperation and interaction between the students and between the teachers and students.
10- The ability to record all the results electronically, which helps in analyzing them using the latest software programs and sharing the results and analysis with others.
11- Help the teacher to evaluate students electronically and easily to guide them and follow their progress in conducting experiments.
12- Save time and effort for researchers by eliminating the need to move between different laboratories.
13- Provide a comprehensive overview for the learner about the hazardous experiments which are not safe in the real world, thus providing him/her with a greater absorption of the course.
14- Help educational institutions save money.
15- Add entertainment while conducting the experiment, which helps attract the students’ attention.
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9 Benefits of Using Virtual Labs:
1- Virtual labs motivate students to conduct laboratory experiments.
2- They satisfy the scientific passion of students, allowing them to access the various experiments easily regardless of time or place.
3- Increase the understanding of scientific courses in physics, chemistry and biology; and Increase student achievement.
4- Eliminate boredom, as it provides fun during the experiments.
5- The virtual labs will increase the scientific research rates because it saves time and effort and enables researchers to use their time more effectively.
6- The virtual labs will enable students to use modern technology and enable them to follow the tremendous progress of the information revolution.
7- Students will be able to use the scientific method of problem solving.
8- Developing teaching and learning methods that will lead to the effectiveness of the educational process.
9- Increased communication between students and each other on the Internet, which helps with the exchange of ideas and experiences.
The Importance of Using Virtual Labs to Keep Up with Digital age:
As the world undergoes a radical transformation in techniques and methods of education and the use of digital devices in education, it is essential that educational institutions keep up with that transformation in order to help their students compete in the labor market and fields of research. It is clear to us that the digital age will only open the way for those who can keep up with it and have technological skills that enable them to adapt to the technological applications in all aspects of life.