1 Complutense University (SPAIN)
2 Alfonso X University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Page: 1752 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0541
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Laboratory practices are a powerful pedagogical strategy used in a wide variety of academic programs, synchronized with their corresponding theoretical subject. The planning of the activities to be carried out is key to the achievement of the objectives since the theoretical and practical programs must be harmonized for a better understanding of the problems and better use by the students.

Conventional laboratories, with all their equipment infrastructure and chemical reagents, have traditionally been the preferred place to develop practices and experiment in science and applied science careers.

The laboratory practices are designed so that the students have a direct and tangible interaction with the theoretical knowledge acquired, proving them experimentally, so that the student who is learning can manipulate materials, instruments and ideas and apply their own initiative and originality.

Conducting the experimental activity has drawbacks in terms of time, space, materials, money and energy, since the start-up of laboratories often requires an expensive infrastructure that is hardly maintained in good condition.

Given the above drawbacks, one of the alternatives for practical teaching is the use of virtual laboratories. The creation of virtual laboratories has many advantages over the real ones. Since this type of laboratories is based on mathematical models that are executed in computers, their programming and realization are simpler. In addition, they have a greater degree of safety since there is no risk of accidents in the environment as there are no physical equipment or devices. Another no less significant advantage comes from the economy, since less is invested in equipment, materials and reagents.

However, the student who only performs virtual practices does not have sufficient experience to solve real problems that can arise daily in a laboratory since the practices that he performs are limited to a certain pre-established model.

Therefore, we believe that in order to better optimize the means and to favor learning, both methods should be combined by alternating virtual and real experimental activity which would bring the following benefits:
• The student becomes familiar with the experiment, so he has previous knowledge of the practices in real laboratories.
• Time is optimized when doing the practices, and also the materials are optimized.
• Students are trained in work methodologies, which create the habit of modeling beforehand.
• It is possible to disseminate constructivist learning, fostering analytical capacity and critical thinking.
• After performing the virtual practices the student acquires previous experience that facilitates the understanding of the problems in the laboratory
Real lab practices, Virtual lab practices.