UNAVOIDABLE QUINTESSENCE OF HANDS-ON LABORATORIES VERSUS VIRTUAL LABORATORIES: AN EDUCATIONAL DILEMMA
1 Universidad San Jorge (SPAIN)
2 Estudios Abiertos SEAS (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Nowadays, open universities stand up for an innovative methodology for teaching and learning distance courses. E-learning education is developed in flexible time and space, active control of the learner´s learning process and new forms of experimentation with knowledge. The student is autonomous to decide the moment and even the way to acquire the knowledge, under assistance, guidance and tracking supervision. However, in the domain of science, technology and engineering, there are more challenges to overcome, because lab practices have to provide effective skill acquisition and hands-on experience.
Traditional hands-on laboratory, where students should develop full observation and awareness activities, have been essential for the education of future engineers and scientists for better understanding the strong relationship between the knowledge and professional real-life. Current Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) provides numerous enhanced tools to implement e-learning methodologies on virtual simulated laboratory and remotely triggerable laboratory.
Through a large review of the literature related to these labs in higher education, there are hands-on advocates, who emphasize the design skill as an advantage, while detractors resolutely bet on an innovative technology using a remote lab arguing a better conceptual understanding. Others manifest that the frontiers among the three labs are unclear, since both laboratories (virtual or real) need computers and automation control and that the effect of presence may be as important as technology.
Nevertheless, one cannot draw hustle conclusions to firm commitment to virtual labs as total substitute of hands-on ones. There are Pedagogical aspects that occur in the development of practices and small projects in the real laboratory which, despite the continuous enhancement of ICT, have not yet been improved or even equaled by the other two types of laboratories.
This paper focuses on this educational dilemma: A comparative study of several types of laboratories available to students of higher education, particularly for engineering degrees, from the point of view of cognitive efficiency and student motivation. It focuses on the practical laboratory in order to put student under circumstances of real interactions, incidents during the experiment and human relations, which is assumed as perceptiveness hardly acquired in virtual labs. Under a holistic view of neuroscience, the brain not only interacts with incoming information, but with the entire sensory context in which the learner is involved; i.e., the environment must address the behavioral cognitive and emotional elements that take place in a real scenario.
The result of the study reveals the unavoidable quintessence of the hands-on laboratories at the present time, and determines a proper rate between real and virtual methodologies for practices of engineering and scientific disciplines. Also the result points out to strategies for a more efficient acquaintance of knowledge by essays and experiments in a future scenario configured with an extrapolation of the ICT current trend, in such way that the weight of hands-on could be reduced. The future impact of technology on teaching and learning are going to potentially improve the efficiency of virtual labs. In addition, social networking and augmented reality should achieve and compensate human relation experience among hands-on lab participants.
Keywords: Virtual lab, hands-on lab, e-learning, engineering, science.