Development of a Virtual Laboratory Experiment for Biology

Jian Qing Yu  School of Computer Sciences & Engineering, Shanghai University, China [jianqingyu@hotmail.com]
 David J. Brown School of Computing & Informatics. Nottingham Trent University, UK [david.brown@ntu.ac.uk]
and Ellen E. Billet School of Biomedical and Natural Sciences. Nottingham Trent University, UK [ellen.billet@ntu.ac.uk]

Abstract

Computer-based virtual simulation is being widely used for the purposes of education and skills training. These include special needs education to sophisticate teaching aids in high schools and universities for the delivery of medical and scientific education. This project investigates the issues in the development of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in the teaching of biology to students in a university Life Sciences department, focussing on a laboratory experiment in an immunology module.

To explore the potential of VLE in learning concepts, principles, and laboratory skills from experiential of virtual experimental exercise, this paper discusses the process of the development of VLE as a self-learning package. A set of design strategies is proposed to guide the design of VLE. An important feature of the VLE is to employ virtual tutoring agents to scaffold the learning process in order to ensure the important learning tasks are tackled. The virtual agents monitor the student's actions and provide advice in the learning process once a mistake of sequential procedures occurs. The students can carry out non-sequential procedures in their own way. Formative evaluation studies were iteratively carried out with the target students to improve the design of VLE. The evaluation results show that the participants were satisfied with the VLE.

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Tags

e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, ICT, information and communication technology, internet, collaborative learning, learning management system, MOOC, interaction, LMS,

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