2020: an Unexpected Test

As educators, we typically give tests to assess prior learning. But 2020 was not a typical year. 

If 2020 was a test, it wasn’t listed on the syllabus, no one studied, the questions covered totally new material, and it was given to teachers as well as to students. 

Paradoxically, we managed to pass by learning from the test itself rather than relying on what we already knew. 

You already knew how to teach in a classroom, but you took reached out to Labster for a virtual solution that would support your science classes when they went from face-to-face to remote to hybrid and back again. 

We already knew how to make virtual labs as a supplement and replacement for in-person science courses, but your willingness to trust us prompted us to build up our virtual lab platform so we could support you and your students wherever learning took place.   

Behind the scenes, Labster was expanding our capacity, scaling up, and improving our virtual labs. The process wasn’t always easy or smooth, but we made progress. Here’s what we’re most proud of:

  • New Virtual Labs: We published close to 50 new virtual lab simulations this year. 
  • Improved Virtual Labs: We updated over 90 older simulations (and counting) with faster loading speeds, lower resource demands so we could support more Chromebooks, and more useful tips for students who want guidance inside the virtual lab. 
  • New Ways to Access Virtual Labs: We created newer, faster ways to access Labster simulations in order to help thousands of schools and universities rapidly transition to online learning for the benefit of students who would otherwise have had no access to laboratories or high-quality science education. Stay tuned for some big improvements to our access options in 2021.
  • More Collaboration: We gathered together the community of educators at the first annual Science Online (SO): Inspired conference where we collaborated on solutions for teaching and learning science during the very challenging time of COVID-19.  
  • More Support: We expanded our support team, extended the hours when you can get live help, and provided a series of webinars to help you start implementing Labster
  • More Server Capacity: We scaled up our backend servers so we could technically support more students and safeguard everyone’s data. 
  • Greater Focus on Accessibility. With such a broad and diverse population of students to serve, we have redoubled our efforts to make our simulations more accessible to all different types of learners.

Working in partnership, we hypothesized, experimented, observed, and analyzed. You told us what worked, what didn’t, and how we could improve.

Together, we supported 20 times more students to learn science with virtual labs in 2020 than in the year before. 

Thank you for sharing your ideas. Listening to your advice and encouragement has helped us to develop exciting new features that will support your students’ learning. Stay tuned, we’ll announce some of these in January 2021.

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University of Florida

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