Students can drag and drop tissue sample slides for a close-up look under the virtual microscope in NTC’s science labs. Photo courtesy Northcentral Technical College.

WAUSAU – Instructional designers and faculty at Northcentral Technical College have recently created virtual lab simulations that give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace.

“Virtual labs promote a high level of student engagement and understanding, while not feeling overwhelming,” said Penny Tesch, science instructor at NTC, in a news release. “This is a great recipe for student success!”

Through this collaboration, the team used backwards-design methodology, allowing them to identify the knowledge, skills and abilities students need to be successful in their classes. Then, they designed custom learning solutions that met those needs.

Tesch leads students through modules where content and expectations are reviewed. Students read through materials and review diagrams. Then, students are able to experience virtual lab simulations where they can review videos, such as dissections, and have the opportunity for self-guided exploration where they are challenged with lab quiz questions to help them assess their level of understanding.

“Building content in this way lets students hear about the content, read about the content, and then interact with the content in a variety of ways,” said Cadie Larson, instructional designer at NTC. “For example, the tissues lab allows the students to work with a microscope to view real tissue slides under a variety of magnifications.”