Purdue Virtual Labs

Complex topics can be challenging both for instructors to teach and for students to learn. While instructional strategies have varied over the years, modern computer graphics environments can provide students with enhanced learning opportunities. By combining mixed reality technologies with physics-based modeling and simulation and authentic machine interfaces, virtual labs (VLs) can both enhance student learning and aid in review and assessment.

Some students struggle to understand complex science, engineering, and technical concepts when first introduced. Typical lab environments for those courses may not have enough space, class time, or equipment for every student to have as many repetitions and learning opportunities as they need. Increased enrollment in specific academic programs has also placed a strain on available classroom teaching space. By using virtual labs, faculty can cover the most essential content during the specified class time, and students can interact with the virtual lab materials multiple times outside of class at their own pace. Whether for initial content presentation, or remediation, virtual labs can be effective instructional media.

By leveraging technology and sound instructional design, virtual labs can provide:

  • Enriched lab experience that is manageable and scalable
  • More opportunities to interact with equipment
  • Longer timescale experiments by providing additional iterations
  • Supervised feedback
  • Provide additional learning modalities for students
  • Relief on infrastructure from unforeseen circumstances

With the need to adapt instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Purdue faculty are rapidly working to make their course content as flexible, scalable, and effective as possible by making labs available in various instructional environments. Whether the goal is to de-densify a classroom space, create supplemental materials for a hybrid class, provide accessibility to students unable to attend live classes, or transition to a fully online environment, virtual labs can provide customized solutions to enhance the learning experience for each course.

Process for Developing Virtual Labs

  • Contact the designated college representative listed below for College of Engineering/College of Science courses and Purdue Polytechnic Institute courses to start the process (see contact information below);
  • Meet with the Envision Center and an instructional developer from the Innovative Learning Team for initial overview of course and objectives for the virtual lab;
  • Establish a timeline for virtual lab development with the Envision Center. The Envision Center will need timely feedback from the instructor to keep on track with the VL production;
  • Meet with an instructional developer from the Innovative Learning Team to develop instructional and assessment materials (optional); and
  • Implement virtual labs in your course and revise with the Envision Center as needed

Please note that the timeframe, resources needed, and commitment can vary based on the purpose and complexity of the virtual lab being developed.

For College of Engineering (CoE) courses and first year courses related to CoE students, please contact:
Dr. Michael Sangid: msangid@purdue.edu
Additional support and resources are available via the CoE, please visit the following CoE website for more information and Engineering specific examples:

For Purdue Polytechnique Institute courses, please contact:
Dr. Nathan Hartman: nhartman@purdue.edu

For Virtual Lab development questions, please contact Purdue’s Envision Center
Envision Center: envision@purdue.edu