Apollo 8 - Project 7: Virtual Science Labs

Registration for the Science Laps can be found at the bottom of the page (shortcut).

The ‘Virtual Science Labs’ project: What?

The ‘Virtual Science Labs’ project is one of the eight APOLLO 8 projects funded by the Flemish Government's Advancement Fund and the EU (Recovery and Resilience Facility – NextGenerationEU). The main goals of the project are providing digital support of physical practicals (in the broadest sense of the word) and developing virtual practicals. To achieve these goals, the Virtual Science Labs team offers Ghent University lecturers various tools, including user support durig weekly live sessions: the Virtual Science Laps.

This Education Tip gives an overview of a number of available tools. Information about the support sessions can be found under the heading ‘Virtual Science Laps’. Need some help but cannot make it to any of the Science Laps? The VSL team is ready to help and can be contacted at virtualsciencelabs@ugent.be.

Available Tools

Digital tools can be implemented to serve a variety of educational purposes, such as:

  • by way of illustration of a complex scientific concept explained in a lecture or an exercise session;
  • by way of preparation for an upcoming lecture or practical;
  • by way of variation during an introductory class for a practical;

Virtual practicals can have several specific applications and allow for:

  • students to use a virtual environment to learn how to work with equipment and reagents that are expensive or not accessible;
  • the implementation of a practical for a very large group of students;
  • the illustration of complex scientific concepts in an interactive manner during an exercise session.

Find out more information about the different tools the VSL project has to offer below (e.g. login details to browse the relevant catalogues).

Are you using a cool and instructive digital tool that does not feature in the list below? Please let us know at virtualsciencelabs@ugent.be.

 

1. LabBuddy

LabBuddy offers an e-learning solution which augments traditional lab teaching by means of blended learning. It helps students prepare for a practical, supports them during the practical and guides them to process and interpret their results.

The LabBuddy platform allows students to build their own lab manual in a step-by-step manner. This results in students who come to the practical fully prepared. Each LabBuddy implementation is custom-made for your practical, based on the lab manual you provide.

 

The video shows how LabBuddy can be used by a student.

 

2. Labster

Labster offers a catalogue of 3D simulations which illustrate scientific concepts in a gamified manner. Students experience what it is like to be in the lab. You can explore the catalogue here, using the following login and password:

  • login: virtualsciencelabs@ugent.be
  • password: Labster_UGent321!

To explore the catalogue, click the ‘Catalogue’ button in the left bottom corner. There are two options to look at a simulation: 

  1. hover over the simulation and click the play-icon that appears in the display to the left. This shows you a recording of the simulation, which allows you to go through it quickly. Since it is a recording, it is not interactive;
  2. alternatively, click the title of the simulation. This brings you to the actual simulation which the students will see as well.

Are you looking for an overview of the simulations per discipline (without seeing the actual simulations)? Browse the tabs in this document to find an inventory of all the titles, along with a synopsis.

Would you like to implement Labster in your teaching practice? Let us know beforehand at virtualsciencelabs@ugent.be so we provide the necessary licenses for you. Afterwards you can simply install an LTI connection between your Ufora course and the Labster simulation you wish to use, using this manual. This way, the students are easily directed to the correct simulation. Whenever students start a simulation in your Ufora course, the Labster website will automaticallt generate a corresponding account. Click here to find out in what ways you can implement Labster in your teaching activities.

The LTI link also automatically adds the Labster simulation to the grade book of your course in Ufora. Make sure to hide the grade book from users if you do not want your students to see it.

 

Screenshot Labster Screenshot LearnSci

 

3. LearnSci

LearnSci offers a catalogue of 2D simulations in which complex scientific concepts are visualized and explained in a concise and interactive manner. Topics range from safety in the lab, pipetting, to making dilutions and more, which makes this tool very well suited to prepare students for practicals. More complex topics are often divided into smaller modules, which allows the lecturer to pick and choose precisely what they need.

In order to use the LearnSci catalogue, the homepage needs to be integrated into a Ufora course or into your Sandbox. This manual shows you how. Read the manual carefully to fully understand every functionality LearnSci has to offer.

After integrating the Learnsci homepage into your Ufora module, a window with more information on LabSim will open. Scrolling down, you will find the LabSim catalogue. Click any topic of your choice and go the 'Preview' to go through it. You can use the ‘Search’ bar to filter the LabSims according to topic or tag.
 

4. H5P

H5P is an open source tool to create content based on JavaScript. The tool allows for the creation, use and sharing of interactive HTML5 content, even without coding knowledge.

Meanwhile H5P is available in both your Ufora Sandbox and your Ufora courses, both as an ‘existing activity’ or when clicking the button ‘insert stuff’ in a text editor. Currently, we are working on supporting material for the H5P functionalities.

 

Adding H5P content within an Ufora text editor

5. joVE

JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) offers over 15,000 short videos discussing core scientific concepts and lab techniques. Additionally, complete practicals with ready-to-use manuals for lecturers and protocols for students are also available.

Ghent University staff have access to the categories ‘Chemistry’, ‘Environmental Sciences’ and 'Physics' until 31 December 2023. You can access these educational materials by logging in with your Ghent University email address or by simply navigating to the JoVE website from the university network (or alternatively through VPN).  Through the 'Embed' button underneath a video, a code is generated which allows you to integrate the clip in your Ufora course (through the source code button '<>' in each text editor). Negotiations concerning continued access past december 2023 are ongoing.

 

6. other subprojects 

Other achievements of this project are:

  • the purchase of eight HoloLenses for teaching purposes;
  • the purchase of 15 hardware components for physiological practicals;
  • the purchase of hand-held sensor units for at-home physics practicals and the development of accompanying learning paths;
  • the continued development of Dodona;
  • the development of VR and AR applications:
    • functional veterinary anatomy and medicine;
    • AR/VR horse RX app;
    • virtual training by Day One Skills for reproductive research;
    • an e-learning module for biosafety using 3D virtual tools;
  • developing a user-friendly rendition of Opanex, a tool that offers interactive visualizations of 3D-scans for a number of disciplines (anatomy, geography, mineralogy)
  • ...

 

Virtual Science Laps

The ‘Virtual Science Laps’ are support sessions for all Ghent University staff involved in practical education in the broadest sense of the word (labs, practicals, field work, exercise sessions). Various education developers and the VSL team offer are ready to advise and share their experience with you. During the sessions you can:

  • further develop your online course materials using digital tools within and outside of Ufora;
  • brainstorm in small groups or one-on-one on how to turn certain aspects of your course unit into an online learning path;
  • exchange tips and tricks about Ufora and stay tuned to the latest developments.

The Laps are also an opportunity to exchange ideas and materials with colleagues with similar teaching assignments as you.

Some sessions will be organized on one specific theme, either sponaneously or on demand.

 

Use this event manager to register for any of the Laps. If you register at least one week in advance, we can offer you lunch.

 

Contact

Jorg Van Renterghem is a programmer working for Dodona (WP3). In addition to Jorg, the following project members are at your service:

Dorrit de Jong (background in biology and former PhD student at the PSB Department of VIB)

Lana Hellebaut (background in biochemistry and biotechnology with over six years’ worth of experience as a teaching assistant and supervisor of practicals) 

Lander Cnudde (background in maths, physics and engineering and former ACTIVO liaison officer at FEA)

Emailing virtualsciencelabs@ugent.be will bring you into contact with Dorrit, Lana and Lander in one go.  

 

Last modified Feb. 1, 2023, 2:08 p.m.