Dr. Amber Kool turned to Labster when searching for a wet lab alternative during the pandemic. A year later, she is satisfied that Labster supports active learning and engages students. As she plans Arizona College of Nursing’s transition to a post-COVID curriculum, she is incorporating virtual lab simulations in all lab courses and in some concept-based courses. She said, “We can use it as prep work, we can use it as a pre-experience, or we can run through the virtual lab together.”
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"Labster is a very valuable resource. We can use it as prep work, we can use it as a pre experience, or we can run through the virtual lab together.”
Dr. Amber Kool
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Make a successful transition back to blended and face-to-face teaching after the pandemic
Dr. Amber Kool is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Arizona College of Nursing.
Number of students using Labster: 8,400 students since March 2020
Labster Simulations used:
The college uses 45 Labster virtual labs, including:
• Carbohydrates: The sugars that feed us
• Cardiovascular Function During Exercise: Learn how your body responds to exercise
• Endocrinology: Learn how contraceptives work
• Hematology: Introduction to blood
• Introduction to Food Macromolecules
• Introduction to Immunology: Explore the immune system and save the world
• Skeletal muscle: Learn about the muscles we use to walk and run
• Smooth muscle: Learn how your gut contracts
• Your Diet and Your DNA
Back to Blended and Face-to-Face Learning
How do you take what you’ve learned in the virtual world and translate that back into the in-person or blended classroom? You expose them to the material in the virtual labs and then reinforce it once you’re in the in-person lab. That’s where they get the practice and the skill. Now we can really focus on ‘‘Why did you do that?’ We can ask some investigative questions that will challenge the student on what they didn’t understand when they were working independently in the virtual lab.
Labster Prompts Students to Use Critical Thinking
In a virtual environment, students have to make all the decisions. Of course you will debrief with them and give them feedback, but they are really using their own critical thinking skills. And because they’re putting learning into action in a simulation, it’s more than just trying to memorize something - they can actually pull on those experiences in the future when they need to make a decision.
Labster Enables Faculty to Become Guides and Mentors
When students come into class, instead of lecturing about whatever the content is, we’ll debrief over how the simulation went. I think we have to move away from the lecturing component. The faculty member becomes more of a coach, they become more of a guide, and the accountability for the learning goes back on the student.
Labster Engages Students
I can give you direct quotes from student evals that say that they love the virtual labs, they love the interaction. They love how informative they are. Being able to see that your students are learning and your students are engaging and they are growing from it means that it is working. We have to embrace that.
Labster for Non-Lab Courses
We currently use Labster in two courses that do not have a lab component. The one that I really think has worked fabulously is our Nutrition course. Nutrition is hard. So how do you expose a student to something that seems so abstract to them? And the Labster virtual simulations specifically give us that tool.