Technology Enhanced Learning

Carrie Heeter
Michigan State University
Department of Telecommunication


      2.5 Virtual Laboratories

      Much of I2 development has served to connect geographically dispersed teams of scientists through creation of collaboratories and virtual laboratories. The virtual laboratories include the Astronomy Group and Kit Peak, Remote Sensing, 4D Microscopy, and Nanomicroscopy.

      The InVsee I2 project makes a Nobel Prize winning scanning probe microscope (SPM) technique available online for students and teachers to operate and learn about nanotechnology. Students and teachers can view the live system, look through a gallery of images taken by others, capture their own images, and explore learning modules.


      On the opposite end of the scale spectrum, the MicroObservatory is a network of five automated telescopes that can be controlled over the Internet. Developed at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the telescopes were designed to enable students and teachers nationwide to investigate the deep sky from their classrooms. Users are responsible for taking their own images by pointing and focusing the telescopes, selecting exposure times, filters, and other parameters.


      Both scientists and students can use these virtual laboratories. Research (perhaps already conducted) could refine the description of how to offer an online virtual laboratory to a rare instrument and examine the impact of the tool on different classes and individuals. The resulting how-to manual could then be used to entice other collaboratories and virtual labs to open up an education outreach resource.


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