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Various reasons have been attributed to the lack of learning in hands-on labs. One factor is high cognitive load as students are given too much information all at once. Therefore, students tend to concentrate solely on acquiring procedural knowledge to get the results/product. Another factor is performing experiments without having learned the theory first. Understanding related theories and concepts is key if students are to construct knowledge from experiments. Hands-on labs are also expensive to operate in terms of facilities, resources, and staff time.
There has been increased interest in developing online labs across a variety of domains and educational disciplines to address some of the gaps with hands-on labs. Besides being less expensive, other advantages of online/virtual labs include presenting unobservable phenomena, providing a safe environment for performing experiments, and conducting more experiments in a simpler and more timely manner. The recent pandemic has further demonstrated the need for effective online labs.
Designed by experts in lab-based learning and online learning, Ladderane offers two main purposes.
First, it is designed to help students understand the rationale for experimental procedures and reflect on what they are doing. Ladderane's user friendly interface, combined with opportunity to add reflective questions, and videos to explain theories or procedures, provides an opportunity for students to understand the why and why of experiments without being overloaded. Ladderane incorporates research such as multimedia design principles and cognitive load theory to help instructors develop effective online experiments. We will discuss these theories in our future blogs, so stay tuned!
Second, Ladderane is designed to provide a platform for instructors to develop their own experiments to address the key learning outcomes of performing experiments such as making observations, analyzing data, and reflecting on related theories and procedures. Ladderane allows to customize a wide variety of different elements for each experiment, such as colour, chemicals, glassware, etc. For example, you can create multiple experiments for Fischer esterification using different carboxylic acids and alcohols, or use different acids and bases for titrations with different concentrations. This flexibility provides an opportunity to create a unique experiment for a group of students and thus is ideal for group work or class discussions.
Make sure to check out our demo experiment.
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