Virtual Lab – Advantages and Disadvantages

Didactic experiments play an important role in teaching science. Normally, didactic experiments take place in the school laboratory equipped with specialized equipment. Along with the development of the computing technique, a new approach appeared, called ”virtual lab”. In the virtual lab, real experiments are replaced with computer simulations of the studied phenomena.

Basically, virtual experiments are software applications that run on a computer (online or offline). We can find virtual experiments online on specialized sites such as, and others.

There are also virtual lab software packages that can be installed and used offline. If you know how to program, you can make your own simulations.

The virtual lab has several advantages, such as:

  • Our students are part of the generation of digital natives and for them the virtual world is very attractive.
  • All virtual experiments can be done with the same computer, while for real experiments we need different devices for different experiments.
  • We can connect the computer to a smart board and thus the whole class can see the experiment.
  • We can even simulate experiments that in real life could be dangerous and thus we can teach the students about them without putting them in danger.
  • We can simulate experiments that we cannot do in a school laboratory, such as a nuclear reactor or the launch of a satellite.

On the other hand, the virtual lab also has a number of disadvantages.

  • A disadvantage is the fact that computer science evolves quickly and a software that is good today will become outdated in a few years and will have to be replaced by a newer one.
  • But the biggest disadvantage is that virtual experiments are not real. They are just some software applications in which it is enough to add a minus in a line of code to get aberrant effects like objects falling up (although real objects fall down) or electrons attracting each other (although real electrons repel each other). The world of computer games shows us that we can achieve even more spectacular unreal effects.
  • The fact that the simulations are unreal can lead to students’ disconnection from reality, and that would be the exact opposite of the purpose of teaching science.

That’s why I think we can use virtual experiments in situations where for various reasons we can’t carry out real experiments, but we need to alternate these methods with real experiments to prevent students from disconecting from reality

Bibliography and further readings
1. L. Ciascai, “Didactica fizicii”, Editura Corint, București, 2007
2. C. C. Brinza, “Utilizarea calculatorului în predarea fizicii în învățământul preuniversitar”, Casa Editorială Demiurg, Iași, 2006
3. A. Moldoveanu, F. Moldoveanu, V. Asavei, C. Boiangiu, “Realitatea virtuala”, Editura Matrix Rom, Bucuresti, 2009
4. G. Mahalu, “Modelarea sistemelor fizice”, Editura Matrix Rom, Bucuresti, 2020


prof. Bogdan Gherasim

Colegiul Național Victor Babeș (Bucureşti) , România
Profil iTeach:

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