Virtual Lab options: Do it yourself to off the shelf

This is a summary of the Alternative Lab Options webinar presented by Laurie Harrison, William Heikoop, Frank Fan, and Andrea Liede-Sevsek, who discussed interactive, virtual alternatives to in-person labs. If you missed the session, you can watch a recording of the video or review the slide deck (at the end of this post).

This webinar discusses the following:

  • Building awareness of virtual lab alternatives
  • Activity options for engaging students, with a focus on aligning learning outcomes with assessments and assignments
  • Demonstration of solutions, including implementation of interactive labs through Quercus, H5P (HTML5 Package), and Pressbooks
  • Other support resources

What is H5P?

H5P stands for HTML5 Package and is a plugin tool that helps users produce and run different types of interactive content, such as videos, quizzes, presentations, and games. It can be integrated with Quercus and other websites. Though slides and quizzes can be created on H5P, they cannot be exported anywhere else.

What is Pressbooks?

Pressbooks is an open textbook platform that allows you to create, format, and publish books online. It can be exportable as a PDF, MOBI, or EPUB file, or it can be left as an interactive web book on the Pressbooks site. After creating an account, you can enter book information, add and organize text, and choose a theme for your book. To learn more about Pressbooks, check out the Pressbooks guide.

Types of lab alternatives

Laurie mentioned that there's a few major strategies when it comes to adapting in person labs to virtual labs. Depending on your task, the amount of time you have to spend in development, and your budget, one of these options might make more sense for your project than others.

  • “Adapt” - Use existing open-source materials to provide high-quality lab simulations that can be embedded in Quercus; you can also adapt open source materials (sometimes by attributing back to the author) for your particular uses
  • “License” - A commcerial option is to license virtual labs from established companies.
    • Labster - interactive lab simulation tool in a variety of different subjects, including engineering
    • Build lab modules in Quercus using standard platform tools
    • Build lab modules using H5P and embed in websites
  • “Create” - create your own labs or activity guides; see our guide to filming in labs

Will ran through how to build a lab in Quercus using modules and Frank and Andrea demonstrated how H5P could be used to author interactive modules. These are summarized in the slide deck below, but we'd also recommend watching the video for more details.

For more information, you might be interested in: 

Specialized support resources

Virtual labs for remote/online courses
Virtual lab and science resource directory

General support resources

CTSI website
Upcoming events
Quercus support resources

Virtual Lab Options Session slide deck: