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A review of contemporary virtual and remote laboratory implementations: observations and findings


Many studies have shown that laboratory activities increase students’ achievements and interest in the subject matters and further help their learning, especially in disciplines such as sciences, engineering, computing and others. Advances in technologies and communication networks have created the possibility to develop virtual and remote labs providing new opportunities for both on-campus and remote students circumventing certain limitations of physical laboratories. In this paper, we review contemporary remote and virtual laboratory implementations in different disciplines. Our review and analysis uncover a number of interesting observations, findings and insights into virtual and remote laboratory implementations. Virtual and remote laboratories provide a number of advantages such as remote 24 × 7 access, flexibility and freedom to learn at one’s own pace and reset/retrial experiments without wasting resources in a safe environment and provide new opportunities for learning. We observe that these labs when incorporated with sound pedagogical framework, learner support, content and tutor interaction result in higher learning outcomes and richer learning experience. Future work will evolve to implement innovative labs in different education contexts taking advantage of technological advances. Collaboration, catering to different learner personalities, impact of learning outcomes, pedagogical frameworks for virtual and remote labs are areas for further investigation.

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Correspondence to Tareq Alkhaldi or Rukshan I. Athauda.

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Alkhaldi, T., Pranata, I. & Athauda, R.I. A review of contemporary virtual and remote laboratory implementations: observations and findings. J. Comput. Educ. 3, 329–351 (2016).

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  • Hands-on laboratory
  • Physical laboratory
  • Remote laboratory
  • Virtual laboratory
  • Simulation laboratory