A comparative study on the suitability of virtual labs for school chemistry experiments
(1) Samvida, Bengaluru, India, (2) Prayoga Institute of Education Research, Bengaluru, India
Even though the concept of the virtual lab is nearly two decades old now, it has started to gain popularity over the last few years. Teachers and students have been using virtual labs to complement experiments done in physical labs or have even used them exclusively based on the circumstances. Demand for these online simulations reached a new height during the worldwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools were closed and thus also physical labs, virtual labs became the only mode of conducting experiments for many students. In this study, we addressed the suitability of virtual labs for school chemistry experiments and compared their effectiveness first qualitatively by focusing on both physical and human resources, convenience, cost, safety, and time involved. Then we assessed the effectiveness of virtual labs quantitatively for the topic ‘matter’ and compared that with the traditional physical lab experiments. We also acknowledged the unique features of virtual labs to understand concepts that are difficult or impossible to visualize in regular physical labs, including molecular arrangement, movement of individual molecules, and different atomic models. Our quantitative assessment based on pre-test and post-test revealed that students’ fundamental understanding improved after intervention through virtual labs, as evident from the t-test.
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