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Virtual Laboratory - Essay Example

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Virtual Laboratory and Learning Process (Name) (University) (Date) Virtual Laboratory and Learning Process Introduction Virtual laboratories are a solution to meet the challenges in higher education like lack of resources, scarcity of good teachers and sharing of costly resources between institutions…
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Virtual Laboratory and Learning Process Virtual Laboratory and Learning Process Introduction Virtual laboratories are a solution to meet the challenges in higher education like lack of resources, scarcity of good teachers and sharing of costly resources between institutions. Many biotechnological experiments can be easily performed and explained using virtual laboratories in an effective manner. With the arrival of internet and computer technology in modern education, limitations like distance and costly instruments are no more a hurdle. Biotechnology, biomedical engineering and bio informatics which are some of the most relevant subjects in biology are most benefitted from internet and its associated technologies. Topics from these spheres of biology which are difficult to comprehend is simplified and illustrated in virtual laboratories. Moreover this enables remote operation of the same experiment by the student either simultaneously or at a different time. Virtual Laboratory Experiments through the web stimulate the interest and curiosity of the student thus providing opportunity for learning advanced concepts through remote experimentation. Different experiments in biology are dealt in virtual laboratories with the same feel and originality as in a real laboratory. The theory and procedure of the experiment is well described and the steps demonstrated through animation makes learning easy and more intelligible. Most of the equipments used in labs have computer interface and data storing. Through the virtual laboratory it is possible to provide the result of the experiment to the the student through the computer interface. A topic like ‘genetic testing of cancer’ can be interestingly articulated and expressed by using the virtual laboratory. Virtual laboratories are an effective tool in distance education. It circumvents the difficulties in setting up a traditional laboratory with many expensive equipments and instruments. Like a real laboratory, various components are necessary for setting a virtual laboratory. They are roles, hardaware, software, network services and different activities. The roles mean the roles of the instructor and the learner. The hardware aspect includes the various physical experimental equipments and the software includes teaching functions and learning functions. As Benmohamed et al (2005) (as cited in Jin, 2011) points out, since virtual laboratory is a ramification of distance learning this requires network capabilities and services for networking purposes. And thus the instructor and learner communicate through the internet (p. 16). Genetic testing for cancer is nothing but detecting the presence of cancerous genes in advance to prevent its occurrence by people who have a family history of cancer. Through a virtual laboratory, this topic can be cleanly delivered by explaining how genes play an important role in cancer development, what are genes, what is gene mutation. The role of mutation in the development of cancer, the different type of cancer related genes and their inheritance, the various test involved in detecting cancer etc. As described in the National Cancer Institute’s website, the virtual laboratory should give a brief idea about who are the persons at risk and the necessity of screening test by them, the need of genetic counseling, the psychological risks of knowing the result, the risk of passing the mutation, how the test is performed, how the result of the test can be interpreted and the ongoing research done in genetic test of cancer. By compiling all these information in that particular module of the virtual laboratory a learner at a remote region becomes well informed about all the different aspects of genetic testing for cancer in depth. The various steps in genetic testing like isolation of the particular gene from samples of body fluids or tissues can be demonstrated through animation which enables the student to remotely operate the same steps in an actual laboratory set up. The tests performed for detecting the presence of the faulty gene can also be illustrated step by step thereby enriching the learning experience of the distant learner. As Schmidgen and Evans (2003) propose, every virtual laboratory is a platform for discussions between the instructor and the learner thus making learning process fruitful. Above all, it is a storehouse of images and texts regarding the subject it deals. Conclusion Virtual laboratories stimulate curiosity and innovative spirit in the learner which is a necessity in making engineering and science learning efficient and effective. The learning through virtual labs is made more realistic by providing additional supports like audio and video streaming of actual equipment. As described in Virtual Labs, this enables learners to perform experiments together even though they are separated by the constraints of space: and, this internet based technique utilizes resources like data available from the web and the assistance of talented teachers in skillfully performing the experiments. With the use of virtual laboratories learning complex and advance concepts of science and technology has become effortless, interesting and effective. It also permits the learner to work with the available materials just like in a real laboratory and allows sharing them with other users. Because of the above said reasons we can rightly say virtual laboratories play a significant role in revolutionizing distance learning which was once reduced to postal deliverance of learning material and its clueless crammer by the learner. Reference Jin, Q. (2011). Distance Education Environments and Emerging Software Systems: New Technologies. US: Idea Group Inc. National Cancer Institute. Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/genetic-testing Schmidgen, H & Evans, R. (2003). The Virtual Laboratory: A New On-Line Resource for the History of Psychology. History of Psychology, 6 (2): 208-213. Virtual labs. Objectives of the Virtual Labs. Retrieved from http://www.vlab.co.in/ Read More
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