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Design considerations for virtual laboratories: A comparative study of two virtual laboratories for learning about gas solubility and colour appearance
Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology/University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8493-9231
Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology/University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Centrum för lärande, kultur och samhälle (CLKS).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2545-7747
PIL Pedagogical Development & Interactive Learning, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
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2019 (English)In: Education and Information Technologies: Official Journal of the IFIP technical committee on Education, ISSN 1360-2357, E-ISSN 1573-7608, Vol. 24, no 3, p. 2059-2080Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Building a virtual laboratory for teaching and learning is a highly complex process, incorporating diverse areas such as interaction design, visualisation, and pedagogy. This article focuses on the production and implementation issues that were found in the comparison of two different virtual laboratory projects, and discuss which design considerations can be drawn from these observations. Two web-based virtual laboratories - the Gas Laboratory and the Virtual Colour Laboratory - were developed independently of each other within two different content areas. The laboratories share considerable overlaps in goals and production circumstances. Through a comparison of production and outcome, similar problems related to design, development and implementation were observed. The research uses a mixed method approach combining quantitative pre- and post-tests for assessments, qualitative surveys, and qualitative, ethnographic observations and interviews. By comparing the background material, five design challenges for developing virtual laboratories are identified: 1) how to balance ambitions with available resources; 2) how to balance intended levels of user interaction with exploratory freedom; 3) how to find appropriate levels of realism depending on target group; 4) how to choose between mimicking real world appearance and enhanced features; and 5) how to find the best learning situation for the virtual laboratory. To meet these challenges, the following design considerations are proposed: Guide the design work with a clear understanding of purpose and context; select appropriate technology to ensure efficient design and media usage; select level of realism considering purpose and end users; and provide learning guides before and after the virtual lab session. © 2019, The Author(s).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, NY: Springer-Verlag New York, 2019. Vol. 24, no 3, p. 2059-2080
Keywords [en]
Virtual laboratories, Cloned and enhanced laboratories, User evaluation, Design considerations, Interactive learning environments, Interdisciplinary projects
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-38773DOI: 10.1007/s10639-018-09857-0Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85060024906OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-38773DiVA, id: diva2:1280526
Projects
BioHOPE
Funder
Wallenberg Foundations, KAW 2004.0184Swedish Research Council Formas, 2004–421–360-31
Note

Funding: The Gas Laboratory was part of the larger BioHOPE project, which was supported by Wallenberg Global Learning Network (KAW 2004.0184). The Colour Laboratory was supported by The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) (2004–421–360-31). The production of this article did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Available from: 2019-01-19 Created: 2019-01-19 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Karlsson, Göran

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