Virtual Laboratory's at Charles Sturt University

Virtual Laboratory’s at
Charles Sturt University
Professor Barney Dalgarno
Co-Director uImagine
Digital Learning Innovation Laboratory
Charles Sturt University
• The Virtual Chemistry Laboratory (2000-2005)
• Demo
• Evaluation of use by Distance Education students
• Technology platform
• Enhancements explored
• Proposal for an open and extensible virtual
laboratory platform
The Virtual Chemistry
• Focus on preparation for laboratory
• Modelled on the undergraduate
laboratory on Wagga Wagga campus
• Ability to collect, assemble and
manipulate apparatus
• Information about apparatus and
safety procedures embedded
Evaluation by Distance
• Students sent the Virtual Laboratory on CD
• Undertook exploratory activities using the
Virtual Laboratory ahead of their
residential school
• Questionnaire on its effectiveness in
preparing for residential school
• Interviews to discuss the issues in more
• Experimental design to compare
preparation in the real lab with the virtual
lab with another cohort
Evaluation Results
• No significant difference between
virtual laboratory and real laboratory in
apparatus identification, location or
overall lab familiarity
• Students using the Virtual Lab found it
to be a valuable preparatory tool
(57%) and indicated they would
recommend it to other students (68%)
• A minority said it improved their
confidence (41%) or reduced anxiety
(32%) in the laboratory
Dalgarno, B., Bishop, A.G., Adlong, W., & Bedgood
Jr, D.R. (2009). Effectiveness of a virtual laboratory
as a preparatory resource for distance education
chemistry students. Computers and Education, 53(3),
Technology platform
• Virtual Reality Modelling Language
• VRML Script User Interface
• Blaxxun Contact Extensions
• Java Script Menu System
Dalgarno, B. (2005). A VRML Virtual Chemistry
Laboratory Incorporating Reusable Prototypes for
Object Manipulation. SimTect 2005, the annual
conference of the Simulation Industry Association of
Australia. Available:
Enhancements Explored
- Virtual Experiments
- Student Avatars
- Personified Agents
Enhancements Explored
– Virtual PDA for
communication with peers,
video demonstrations, and
access to tools
Lee, M. J. W., & Dalgarno, B. (2011). Scaffolding
discovery learning in 3D virtual environments:
Challenges and considerations for instructional
design. In S. Hai-Jew (Ed.), Virtual immersive
and 3D learning spaces: Emerging technologies
and trends (pp. 138–169). Hershey, PA:
Information Science Reference.
Next steps: An open and extensible platform for
virtual bioscience laboratories – Australian Office
for Learning and Teaching grant application
• A navigable 3D interface;
• Multi-user capabilities supporting collaboration and
in-environment demonstrations;
• Formative and summative feedback on activity
while undertaking experiments and on conceptual
understanding using learning analytics techniques;
• An open platform enabling free adoption by the
sector and ongoing extension and expansion; and
• A user-extensible and user-configurable