VR Biology Labs for ASU Online Students

ASU is rising to new heights in innovation, providing worldwide access to the first fully online molecular biology lab using virtual reality simulations. Now ASU Online students in the Biological Sciences undergraduate degree program can conduct experiments, work through labs, and see real-world outcomes through virtual simulations using Google’s Daydream VR technology, Labster’s science simulations, and Lenovo Mirage Solo headsets, the world’s first standalone Daydream VR headsets.

“When you’re on the headset, it’s really immersive. I’m really looking around the lab, and I don’t have my laptop open with all the other tabs, checking social media. I’m really in it,” said ASU Online Biology student, Penny Stone.

EdPlus was instrumental in developing and managing the partnership between ASU, Google, Labster, and Lenovo. In addition to advocating for this innovation at ASU, EdPlus staff worked with School of Life Sciences faculty and staff to design the courses and align the biology lab content for this new medium. Philippos Savvides, head of Learning Technologies for EdPlus explains the practical impact for students taking their biology lab requirements using virtual reality technology. 

“It’s on-demand unlimited practice with unrestricted access to experiences not possible in a physical lab. Equally important, it enables access to students who cannot participate in person,” said Savvides. 

The first cohorts of students received the VR headsets on loan and are using them in BIO 181: General Biology I. Future students may pay a nominal fee to purchase their own headset or borrow one of the 140 headsets available to students to complete the lab simulations within the course. During the 2018-2019 academic year, ASU will launch three additional online courses using virtual reality technology: BIO 394: Cell and Molecular Biology, BIO 361: Animal Physiology, and BIO 321: Ecology. Online biology degree students who take these lab courses will complete their lab requirements without having to come to campus or using physical lab materials sent to them.

Read the entire ASU Now news story about Virtual Reality at ASU.