11 Questions to Ask Before Buying Virtual Labs

April Ondis

Answering these questions before you buy will help you make a more informed decision about which virtual labs to choose. 

#11 — Who makes the virtual labs? Is the company reliable?

It’s important to choose a virtual lab company that won’t let you down. Founded in 2012, Labster is the original provider of virtual science labs for science education. We are committed for the long-term because we are mission-driven to empower the next generation of scientists to change the world and solve global challenges. We constantly invest in our science education platform. For example, Labster more than doubled the number of our science simulations, added new localized versions of our simulations in multiple languages, released a library of 2D science images, and created dozens of new 3D animated videos in the 2020-2021 school year. 

#10 — Are virtual labs more than just an online lab replacement?

Virtual science labs can do more than just mimic a wet lab. Labster’s powerful game engine uses 3D animations to help students visualize scientific phenomena that the eye can’t see. It permits students to collapse time so they can run a 10-day experiment in just a few minutes. It helps students apply learning from lecture to labs with storylines that contextualize learning and help get students engaged with science.  

#9 — Can virtual labs be used in-person?

Virtual labs are an experiential learning tool that should be flexible enough to use in different settings. You can teach in-person, remote, or hybrid with Labster virtual labs.  Labster complements each instructor’s unique approach to teaching with experiential learning as well as concept-building components. And, with our new editable lab reports, lab manuals, and other supplementary curriculum resources, Labster makes teaching with virtual labs a more collaborative experience.

#8 — Will virtual labs help me save time?

Labster saves instructors valuable time by automatically grading embedded quiz questions and giving students the background knowledge and practice they need to avoid common, time-consuming mistakes that extend the duration of lab periods. 

#7 — Can I sync grades with my LMS from virtual labs? Can virtual labs integrate with my LMS? 

Being able to sync grades from virtual labs to your LMS course gradebook is key. With Labster, grade syncing is easy. Labster is compatible with all major Learning Management Systems, including Canvas, Moodle, D2L, Blackboard, Sakai, Schoology, and Google Classroom. 

#6 — Is technical support included with virtual labs? 

As a Labster customer, you’ll have unlimited access to customer support directly from our industry-leading team, 22 hours a day Monday-Friday and 12 hours a day Saturday-Sunday. We also have a robust Help Center and automated chatbot for those who prefer self-service. In addition, you’ll have a dedicated Customer Success Manager who acts as your personal point of contact with Labster and provides best practices guidance to help you get the most out of teaching with Labster. And yes, support is included with Labster. 

#5 — What if my students have technical problems? Will my students have help for using the virtual labs?

The last thing an instructor should have to worry about is how to troubleshoot students’ technical problems. With Labster, your students have support virtually around the clock via Labster’s live chat function and Help Center full of videos and articles that answer common questions. 

#4 — Will virtual labs engage my students? Are the virtual labs fun?

Virtual labs need to be engaging in order to support deep learning. Labster uses gamified learning to engage students in science. In fact, Labster’s scientists work with game designers to ensure that Labster science simulations maintain students’ attention, interest, and participation. In the words of a teacher whose students use Labster: “They're not sitting in front of the computer watching a video of someone lecturing to them. They're engaged, they're playing. It's motivating, not boring.”

#3 — Are virtual labs accessible? Which accessibility standards do virtual labs meet?

Labster is committed to making our virtual labs accessible for all learners. Half of our virtual labs currently comply with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard. Most Labster virtual labs will be accessible via screen reader and keyboard navigation by Fall 2021. You can keep track of our progress toward full accessibility here: https://www.labster.com/accessibility/.  

#2 — Are virtual labs available in multiple languages? 

Learning science and understanding scientific terms is much easier in your native language. Non-English language speakers have access to virtual labs in their own languages with Labster. In addition to English-language virtual labs, Labster has Spanish-language virtual labs, French-language virtual labs, German-language virtual labs, and Italian-language virtual labs, with more languages to come. 

#1 — How much do the virtual labs cost? 

Some educators look at the cost of virtual labs before finding out what they offer. Labster’s virtual science labs foster mastery learning and facilitate critical thinking, problem solving, analysis and synthesis — all without the risks inherent in a physical wet lab. The data justify the investment - students who use Labster virtual labs in combination with an instructor achieve a 101% increase in learning outcomes.  Labster’s pricing is competitive and typically lower than the cost of buying lab kits for each student. 

Ready to talk? Schedule a meeting with Labster to get detailed pricing and ask your own questions.

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