The Flipped Lab: reimagining science education with blended next-generation virtual laboratories

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Imagine if your students could have unlimited access to multi-million dollar world-class laboratory facilities anywhere in the world, anytime. We've created a rich virtual laboratory learning experience with the aim of empowering the next generation of scientists around the world.



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Aaron Knox serves as Vice-President of Customer Development, overseeing Labster’s global strategic development, marketing, and sales operations. Aaron has spent a majority of his 20-year career demonstrating a passion for technologies that solve fundamental institutional challenges around innovation in learning, improving student outcomes, and retention. Inspired by Labster’s mission to empower the next generation of scientists and the innovation behind it’s products, Aaron pulled up roots in July of 2016 and moved his family from Denver, Colorado to begin a fantastic new adventure in Copenhagen, Denmark. Prior to joining Labster, Aaron spent five years managing teams for Blackboard’s North American Higher Education division. Aaron and his wife Sheri are the parents of three children. Besides enjoying the experiences that living in a new country affords, Aaron is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys playing ice hockey.

Extended Abstract

Creative thinkers, knowledge makers and innovative leaders are needed more than ever to tackle the future’s global problems such as climate change, pollution and diseases and therefore new tools, technologies and practices are increasingly needed to empower those people to change the world for the better.  

This adds to the increasing need of thinking big and thinking smart when designing the future curriculum and course work, and in many cases adopting innovative technological practices will greatly help achieve this.

Now, Imagine if your students could have unlimited access to multi-million dollar world-class laboratory facilities anywhere in the world, anytime. Labster (featured at has developed virtual laboratory simulations to increase student learning, knowledge retention and motivation when blended with traditional teaching methods. We show what technology can provide to enhance the learning experience - incorporating 3D-molecular animations, case-based narrative, advanced equipment and self-paced enquiry-based problems, which encourage students to use their critical thinking and reflect on the experiments they perform.
Furthermore, Labster is currently doing extensive research within the use of Virtual reality and adaptive learning to incorporate those technologies into the curriculum in order to provide an even richer learning experience for the students.

As part of our research (Nature Biotechnology, 2014) we conducted a study investigating effects on motivation and learning. When combining these next-generation of simulations with traditional teaching, students’ learning improved by over 76%, and indicated strong gains in motivation. A further study published in the BMC Medical Education journal found major gains in learning and self-efficacy in under-performing students. This blended approach could revitalize STEM undergraduate courses, but also provide the much needed support for faculty facing ever-increasing enrolment numbers and bottle-necked lab courses, allowing them to provide a more enriching student experience.