Arizona State online biology students getting hands-on experience in virtual labs
James Paterson, Aug. 28, 2018
- Thirty students registered for Arizona State University Online’s general biology course are using ASU-supplied virtual reality (VR) headsets for a variety of required lab exercises
- The VR equipment, which costs ASU $399 per student, allows learners to complete lab assignments in virtual space using goggles and a controller to maneuver around a simulated lab. Content for the online course was developed and assessed by ASU biology professors and was evaluated this summer. Students also can use their own VR headsets and access the content on their laptops, as 370 other students are doing.
- A university official told Campus Technology the initiative will help online students have the experiences provided in brick-and-mortar labs as well as new ones that were impossible previously. The effort also will ease a problem on campus with limited lab space.
Similar labs are planned for the University of Texas at San Antonio and McMaster University in Canada, according to a blog post from Google, which partnered with the ed-tech company Labster to create the virtual labs. In addition, virtual labs also are available at eight community colleges in California, offering IT and cybersecurity skills instruction.
About half of colleges have space dedicated to VR, with adoption expected to increase as technology costs go down, according to a recent survey by nonprofit consortium Internet2. The survey found that 18% of institutions have “fully deployed” VR and are increasingly making it available to online students, while half are testing or have not yet deployed the technology.
Colleges are using VR for a variety of purposes, from classroom instruction to admissions recruiting to career training.
In addition, because the use of VR is growing in K–12 education, students will expect to use it in college.
more on virtual reality in education in this IMS blog
take a look at OUR VR lab tour: