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“Labster jumped out as having quite a lot of rigor and diversity in choices ... It’s possibly the best thing to use at this moment.”
Dr. Eddy van Hunnik
Microbiology and genetics students are required to develop strong lab techniques—it’s foundational to their studies. For Alamance Community College Instructor Eddy van Hunnik, Ph.D., choosing the right learning tools can make all the difference. Dr. van Hunnik, a biochemist, did the research and determined that Labster virtual lab simulations are an ideal solution for his in-person and hybrid learning students, effectively supporting pre-lab study and giving students a comprehensive yet flexible way to level up their learning and gain lab skills.
Dr. Eddy van Hunnik earned his doctorate in biology from the University of Amsterdam. He is a full-time bioscience and biotechnology Instructor at Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina, one of the first community colleges in the state. Dr. van Hunnik designs courses and teaches lab techniques in microbiology, genetics, anatomy and physiology, and biotechnology to a diverse student population that includes traditional and nontraditional students.
Labster surveyed 17 Alamance students about their experience with virtual simulations within Dr. van Hunnik’s microbiology courses. The survey results showed that 94% of the students gained knowledge from the simulations. Similarly, 94% of students said they gained confidence in their lab skills and felt better prepared for in-person labs. Students responded that the labs were fun and made the course material easier to understand. One student said, “I definitely thought that Labster helped me pull together what I was learning.”
Dr. Eddy van Hunnik has a long history sourcing educational STEM materials for students at a number of higher education institutions. In the past, Dr. van Hunnik has relied on at-home lab kits to supplement his curriculum, but over time he found that such kits were not only expensive but did not always arrive on time, which was a challenge. In addition, he was seeking a flexible way for students to enhance their lab skills, whether they were at home or headed into the laboratory.
Dr. van Hunnik researched virtual lab simulations as a solution, and discovered Labster. He chose Labster for its robust catalog of simulations and comprehensive content. “Labster jumped out as having quite a lot of rigor and diversity in choices,” he says. “It’s possibly the best thing to use at this moment.” The virtual simulations save him time and are more reliable than lab kits. More importantly, he says, they have been effective in preparing his students—even senior level students—to perform better during in-person labs.
Speeding up the learning process with virtual labs
Dr. van Hunnik uses Labster virtual lab simulations to prepare his 30+ microbiology and genetics students for in-person laboratory time. He also relies on Labster to provide online learning to students in hybrid courses and flexible learning to students who might miss in- person lab time due to work or family commitments.
He integrates two virtual labs per week into his pre-existing curriculum. “I try to align them as much as possible with the lab I am doing so that when they come into my classroom, they already have some experience with it,” he says.
His students have greatly benefited from the gram stain simulations, in particular. “They need to learn what is pink, what is purple. You’d think it’s an easy thing to do, but it’s not. When they’ve done the Labster assignment beforehand, I get fewer questions. They’re making the connections when they’re in the in-person lab,” says Dr. van Hunnik.
“I’m already integrating Labster in my senior classes. It’s an extra tool that the students can use and it helps me add more face-to-face labs because it speeds things up.”
Using Labster in the future
Alamance Community College offers inclusion programs that focus on STEM development in high schools, and Dr. van Hunnik says Labster is a good fit for these programs. When asked if he would recommend Labster, he says, “Yes! Definitely yes.” In fact, Dr. van Hunnik has already recommended Labster to an interested community college in Kansas that is seeking a replacement for home lab kits to enhance online learning for students.
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