Virtual Learning Environment

21 Jan 2012


A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a system that creates an environment designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially a system using computer hardware and software, which involves distance learning. In North America, a virtual learning environment is often referred to as a “learning management system” (LMS).
A computer simulation which enables essential functions of laboratory experiments to be carried out on a computer is called a virtual laboratory (VL). Two major conceptions of this idea can be differentiated:
a) In the first constellation an experiment is replaced by a computer model. The experiment therefore takes place in the form of a simulation. Recently, virtual laboratories have emerged above all on the Internet (World Wide Web). However, these experimental virtual laboratories in JAVA format (and also those in VRML- and Shock-wave-Format) mainly represent classic simulations, which are not intended to represent laboratory experiments in a realistic fashion. Simulations which attempt to represent the real laboratory experiments as closely as possible we call virtual labs.
b) On the other hand, laboratory experiments can be described as virtual when the experiments are controlled not by direct manipulation of laboratory equipment, but by means of a computer, which is linked up to the actual laboratory equipment via a
network (for instance, via the WWW).
Generally speaking, virtual laboratories, like simulations, are intended to transfer conceptual and procedural knowledge. Since this knowledge refers to the preparation, the performance and the evaluation of laboratory experiments, it is necessary to impart both background knowledge and also knowledge referring to actually carrying out the experiment.
As with simulations in general, virtual labs can also facilitate a range of different learning processes: solution of (complex) problems; discovery of new content and new assessment of already known information by means of discovery learning;
construction of general principles from experimental work and comparison of individual phenomena (inductive learning). In all these cases the alternation between generating hypotheses and testing hypotheses is of particular importance.
Cramer et. al. (1997) gave definition that a virtual laboratory as a software simulation of an experiment whose output data is indistinguishable from data from a real physics experiment. They added a vision about the network-based virtual laboratory of the future and introduced the terms theory-based virtual laboratory, experimentally-based virtual laboratory.
However, currently the term virtual laboratory is used for very different sorts of simulations. We tried to classify the existing state-of-the-art virtual labs according to 5 categories:
1. Classical simulations which contain certain elements of laboratory experiments and are available locally (Simulations).
2. Classical simulations which contain certain elements of laboratory experiments, are accessible on the Web (on-line) and are available as JAVA-Applets (or accessible with plug-ins) (Cyber Labs).
3. Simulations which attempt to represent laboratory experiments as closely as possible (Virtual Labs).
4. Simulations of lab experiments using virtual reality techniques (VR Labs).
5. Real experiments which are controlled via network / Internet (Remote Labs).

This is an example of software Virtual Laboratory Electricity. I think that we can use it to learn for our students.


Reference :
Cramer, P. G. and De Meyer, G., The Philosophy of the Virtual Laboratory. (1997)
VIRTUAL AND REMOTE LABS IN PHYSICS EDUCATION. German Institute for Research on Distance Education at the University of Tuebingen,

TAGS virtual learning environment

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