Digital Labs Providing Hands on Learning Experiences

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Higher education is being called to provide more real-world training and hands on experiences. Now more universities are providing students with more courses that help students learn about real-world situations with the help of technology.

At A.T. Still University of Health Science is using new software that allows students to turn 2D MRI and CT scans into 3D images to better understand everything they see. The virtual anatomy lab, which features 56 computers with touch-screen monitors, a 3D projector, a 175-inch 3D projection screen and anatomy software costs $350,000 dollars. Higher Ed programs like A.T Still University are now shifting more to hands-on learning, which helps students better understand a possible real-world medical experience. While students examine their cadavers they can also print a 3D version of the possible treatment they would give their future patient.

California State University has also created a system that blends traditional experiments with virtual labs. The university calls their project the Virtual Courseware project, which redesigns courses to take advantage of technology to reduce bottlenecks in class enrollment caused by years of budget cuts. Students learn online and conduct virtual labs, but meet in the class once every two weeks. The program coordinator, Robert Desharnais, found that students not only get better grades when using hybrid courses, but the hybrid approach allows the university to double the number of general education science courses it offers without needing extra faculty or classrooms. Which also saves the university money. CSU’s Virtual Labs offer nonscience majors who need to take an intro class in order to graduate the opportunity to learn more from virtual labs than a traditional lab where they would have to follow step-by-step instructions. Virtual labs give students the freedom to think critically, conduct their own hypothesis, collect data and report results rather than following a textbook.

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