VIRTUAL LABS IN EDUCATION
Previous studies revealed that students who engage in properly-designed laboratory experiences develop important skills and competencies. Laboratory activities provide an interactive learning strategy, inspire students to further their education and foster practical skills. Moreover, science professors consider laboratories as a way of proving beliefs. Therefore, it was stressed that laboratory experiences are at the heart of the learning processes across all domains of science.
The rapid development of information technologies and their availability at low costs have changed the educational laboratory landscape. Among the others, virtual labs grow in numbers during the last years. They allowed a reduction of the costs of hands-on labs by taking advantage of the internet. This because all the infrastructure required for virtual laboratories is not real; rather, it is simulated on computers. They also have additional advantages (e.g., safety and availability).
Our review aims at investigating the educational effectiveness of virtual labs, trying to understand how they can improve the educational experience. We believe it is of importance to deepen the understanding of virtual labs when compared to physical (hands-on) labs in terms of learning outcomes. This because it should be of interest to discuss different viewpoints about educational objectives and effectiveness of hands-on and virtual laboratories.