The New York State Education Department Board of Regents
recently passed a motion to amend section 100.5(b) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, allowing New York public school students to complete the required 1,200 minutes of laboratory experience through a combination of hands-on and simulated laboratory experience. This mirrors the board’s 2020 action, which in both cases reflected the need for flexibility in classrooms due to the pandemic—and its lingering effects on education.
These effects have shone a light on the need for educational technology, and an at-least-partial shift away from how our educational system was originally designed. With remote and hybrid instruction becoming commonplace and sometimes necessary, schools (and students) need resources that can help students continue to learn not only in the classroom, but out of it as well.
One resource that—as shown by New York’s actions—has been proven to work in a variety of learning environments is the simulated laboratory. Along with their flexibility, online and virtual labs reduce the need for lab space and the use of costly and dangerous chemicals and equipment. And the best labs help students learn at their own pace and provide teachers with real-time feedback to address any issues.
In addition, online lab simulations, like
Gizmos, can show students concepts that would be impossible to actually experience in a classroom (evolution, nuclear decay), get students comfortable with technology, and prepare them for computerized assessments.
Whether used as a response to a worldwide shut down of schools during a pandemic, or as the robust, effective, and engaging tools they are no matter what the environment, virtual labs can help schools deliver quality science education to their students.