Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, ETSI de Caminos Canales y Puertos (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 657-666
ISBN: 978-84-09-49026-4
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2023.0225
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
In the university context of engineering studies, the use of laboratories is a necessary tool for meaningful learning. In the practices carried out in laboratories, students consolidate their academic knowledge through the experiments performed. Traditionally, these practices were carried out in person in the laboratories, but due to the pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 and the period of confinement in which we were involved in a matter of days, it became necessary to quickly implement online classes, as well as methodological proposals for the development of the experimental activities programmed in the different subjects. In view of this situation, practices in virtual laboratories, which were already being used previously, have gained great interest and have allowed the educational process to be effective and to meet the proposed objectives and goals, in times of social isolation such as those we have been going through recently.

In the teaching-learning process, virtual laboratories require significant contributions so that educational development is adjusted to new canons, taking into account the sustainability goals set by the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, safeguarding the quality standards that university studies require. These laboratories are in line with the basic principles of sustainability, and favor the learning of laboratory methodologies and techniques that may present some complexity, by simulating the procedures in the virtual world, without the high costs or execution times that are sometimes necessary.

The laboratory work is performed in different formats according to academic needs and the necessary infrastructure, with the objective of facilitating learning from home or from any other location with internet connection, which would be very efficient for developing countries that do not have laboratories in some of their schools or faculties. This remote use of the laboratory is in line with SDG 4: the right to quality education, specifically regarding the targets 4.3 and 4.4, focused on ensuring the access to affordable and quality technical education for all women and men, as well as on promoting the development of relevant practical skills for youth and adults. Likewise, it can also contribute to the training of teachers in developing countries, as a way of international cooperation in education, in line with the target 4.C.

In this way, the Educational Innovation group ATANI, originally constituted in the ETSI Civil and currently belongs to the ETSI de Ingeniería de Caminos, Canales y Puertos of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), has developed the Chemistry Experimentation virtual lab, which forms part currently of the UPM virtual laboratory service. This laboratory is multipurpose, as it can be used both by students of the Chemistry course of the first year of engineering degrees and by middle and high school students, since it is an open source tool that the student or external user can access through an avatar (their character in the virtual world) that must be created for this purpose. These students can find various activities in this virtual lab, such as the viewing of videos of different lab practices, access to gamified activities for learning laboratory material and pictograms, etc. Likewise, students of subjects related to the Environment can carry out a laboratory practice of chemical analysis in a soil sample.
Virtual Labs, SDG 4, Open source tool, Chemistry, Environment.