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Lab Experiments in SL
March 16 @ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PDTFree
“Design and Effectiveness of Laboratory Experiments in the Virtual World of Second Life”
In order to explore the feasibility, challenges, and benefits of replacing real world chemistry lab experiments with a virtual experience, students at a large public university performed experiments in both the real world (RW) and Second Life (SL). Students in either the control group or SL group performed analogous RW and SL versions of two experiments by working in pairs and using the same laboratory manual. The SL group and control group were evaluated the same way as well. Results demonstrate that students learned just as much from the virtual experiments as they do in a real world laboratory based on pre-/post-experiment quizzes and lab report grades. A hands-on lab practicum showed that both groups learned kinesthetic skills to the same extent overall but there were subtle differences in individual skills that each group mastered. Students in the SL group report that the virtual experiments are fun and less stressful than the real world experiments. Teaching assistants provided a useful perspective about implementation and ideas for future virtual lab development plans.
These results are relevant to chemical education in a variety of ways. For on-campus courses, activities in virtual worlds can provide a means to address shortages in budgets and laboratory space. Existing online chemistry courses often lack a high-quality laboratory experience. Virtual worlds enable students to conduct interesting, realistic experiments which may be impractical to perform in a real world setting. Students can work independently or with lab partners, under the supervision of an instructor or autonomously.
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