Pilot case

Laboratory education virtualization (LABOVIR)

Developing an open laboratory education virtualization platform
A screenshot of a 360 degree picture showcasing three chemists working in a chemistry lab.

Pilot leader

Antti Karttunen


School of Chemical Engineering


about 300 students yearly


Jan 2019 – Dec 2019


We aim to deepen the students’ understanding of practical laboratory work and chemical phenomena by utilizing virtual learning environments. LABOVIR is a programme-level activity at CHEM, aiming to complement our practical laboratory teaching at all levels of education.

Virtual laboratories are a very strong emerging trend in education of science and engineering (V. Potkonjak et al., Virtual laboratories for education in science, technology, and engineering: A review, Computers & Education, 2016, 95, 309-327, DOI). They offer numerous benefits to complement and surpass the traditional laboratory training:

  • Learning events can be executed anytime, providing the flexibility (both time and place-wise) for learning, even before coming to Aalto.
  • Student can revisit the activities as many times as he/she wants, easing the stress often familiar with the exams. We also believe, this type of teaching will further reduce the surface learning but instead, enhances the deeper intake of laboratory practices.
  • Doing the exercises in a virtual environment instead of just reading lecture notes and looking pictures will help associating the problems to real laboratory space.
  • Activities at a virtual laboratory can be combined with VR/AR-enabled atomic-level visualization technologies. We aim to improve the understanding of the core concepts from the chemistry lectures by connecting the atomic-level core concepts such as molecular structure and reactivity with the ongoing laboratory exercise.
  • The workload of teachers is reduced because not every single detail has to be taught at a physical laboratory exercise event.

To summarize, we want to develop an open laboratory education virtualization platform, which is so exciting and useful that our colleagues are passionate about implementing it in their own teaching.

In the context of this project, we are also collaborating with the University of Tampere, TAMK, and Metropolia.

Platforms and tools

360° Virtual enviroments: We have implemented our own 360° laboratory safety education platform (visa.aalto.fi), which has been built completely in-house, resides on Aalto servers, and is free of any licensing costs.

Mixed reality environments: We will implement a mixed reality laboratory education platform using Microsoft HoloLens. We have implemented a mixed-reality molecular builder using HoloLens.

Videos: Our video content is hosted on Panopto (as well as on our YouTube channel for global audience).

Games: For gamification, we use H5P platform.

Assessment: For student assessment, we use MyCourses quiz, with a number of different quiz elements that are interlinked with the virtual laboratory contents.

Pedagogical methods

In this pilot, the main focus is on a “learning-by-doing” approach. In other words, when the students have better possibilities to practice real-life situations in the virtual laboratory, they are much better prepared for real laboratory work (please see the Overview section for more information).

Involved courses

CHEM-A1010 – Turvallinen työskentely laboratoriossa (0 ECTS)
CHEM-E0140 – Laboratory Safety Course (0 ECTS)

The lab safety courses CHEM-A1010 and CHEM-E140 are prerequisites for entering any lab courses at CHEM. So, all our students take these courses. The courses are nominally only 0 cr since they are in fact integrated with another 5 cr course (orientation courses for BSc/MSc students).


Antti Karttunen
School of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemistry and Materials Science
Pilot leader

Kirsi Yliniemi
School of Chemical Engineering
Laboratory education expert

Minna Nieminen
School of Chemical Engineering
Laboratory education expert

Otso Pietikäinen
School of Chemical Engineering
AR/VR implementation

Panu Viitaharju
School of Chemical Engineering
360° implementation

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