Designing Virtual Laboratories: Decarboxylation Reactions, Vacuum Distillation and Virus Identification by PCR in the LabLife3D Second Life Laboratory

Tuomas Kangasniemi, Sebastian Olkinuora, Pekka Joensuu, Olli Natri, Pekka Qvist, Martti Ketola, Jaana Brusin, Hanna Virtanen, Marko Närhi, Reija Jokela, Eero Palomäki, Hannu Tiitu, Katrina Nordström

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Practical skills are one of the core competencies in technology, engineering and the natural sciences. However, the busy curriculum in many universities lacks space and time for the learning-by-doing experience to mature. Therefore, we have designed and implemented a virtual laboratory, LabLife3D, to Second Life, to bridge the gap between theory and practice. To date, we have designed five virtual laboratory exercises in the biological sciences and chemistry there: a virus isolation experiment, a laboratory safety tutorial, organic chemistry simulations on (a) decarboxylation reactions and (b) vacuum distillation, and a molecular biology simulation on identifying a virus with polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This paper presents their design process and outlines their contents. General design objectives in virtual laboratories are also discussed, along with laboratory simulations in Second Life by other groups. All the exercises have been designed in accordance with content-specific learning goals and outcomes, which are discussed. In addition to creation of contents, we have also recently studied the usability of our simulations and conducted a student assessment. Preliminary results of the student assessment are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCSEDU 2013, 5th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, Proceedings
EditorsOwen Foley, Maria Teresa Restivo, James Uhomoibhi, Markus Helfert
Place of PublicationSaksa
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-989-8565-53-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Computer Supported Education - Aachen, Germany
Duration: 6 May 20138 May 2013
Conference number: 5


ConferenceInternational Conference on Computer Supported Education
Abbreviated titleCSEDU


  • Virtual Worlds
  • Virtual Laboratory
  • Laboratory Simulation
  • Second Life
  • Engaged Learning
  • Usability Testing
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Design Process
  • Student Evaluation
  • Lablife3D
  • Decarboxylation
  • Vacuum Distillation
  • Enterovirus
  • Reverse Transcriptase PCR
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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