Lynch, T., & Ghergulescu, I. (2017). NEWTON Virtual Labs: Introduction and Teacher Perspective. In 2017 IEEE 17th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT) (pp. 343–345).
Virtual labs play an important role in the current evolution of practical training in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, as they provide a solution to challenges faced by teachers in traditional labs, such as providing instant feedback to students, keeping them engaged and motivated, and enabling all students to carry out experiments at their own pace. They also reduce the set-up and maintenance costs associated with lab management, while removing dangerous hazards and geographical limitations. This paper discusses the status of virtual labs in education and introduces the NEWTON virtual labs which are designed as part of an innovative, large-scale H2020 project. The paper also presents a preliminary study, investigating teachers’ perspective and challenges using questionnaires and interviews. The preliminary results indicate that the biggest challenges to teachers in a science class are facilitating learning to slow and fast learners, giving individual feedback and getting students to engage and stay motivated. The results show that teachers value instant feedback to students, the opportunity for inquiry-based learning, as well as the utilization of technology and lack of hazards.