About one hundred and forty virtual laboratories have been set up in the IITs and some partner institutions across India under a project that is funded by the ministry of human resource development and coordinated by IIT-Delhi, the Times of India reported.
A virtual laboratory is a computer-based activity where students interact with an experimental apparatus or other activities via a computer interface.
Students can work in these labs for free. The move also benefits non-IITians, from the partner institutions, who may not have had the chance to work on such projects because of the unaffordability of state-of-the-art equipment.
Faculty members who helped design the labs said it was about time the internet was leveraged in such a way to benefit students, who would have otherwise been excluded from such opportunities.
Students across several disciplines ranging from electronics and robotics to biological sciences will be able to choose suitable labs for their experiments.
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“As students have to work their way forward in a virtual lab without any guidance, we have kept instructions and directions at every step,” said IIT-Kharagpur’s C S Kumar, who is in-charge of setting up the labs, to the Times.
It is said to be user-friendly and interactive, employing concepts of 3D modeling, visualization, manipulation, and control.
The Times article did not say who the partnering institutions were.
So how well do virtual labs fare? This is an excerpt from a review of a virtual lab experiment, “If your goal involves learning complex psychomotor skills and/or learner decisions or actions based on tactile or olfactory sensory cues, you may want to stick with a hands-on environment or a combination of hands-on and virtual learning landscapes.”