Gamification and interactive simulations to encourage STEM teaching
The company Labster, owned by biotechnologist Mads Bonde, has designed a virtual education platform based on interactive classes and 3D immersion experiences to revitalise learning for students of technical courses and develop their talent
One of the major concerns in business is how to find qualified talent to face the requirements of the market of the future. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) profiles are increasingly in demand.
However, at present supply is lower than demand, meaning that there is a talent gap that is acting as a professional barrier. One of the reasons that this exists is that STEM courses are associated with a technical complexity that does not always pique students’ interest. To try to solve this and incentivise the training of these professional profiles, the Danish biotechnologist Mads Bonde founded Labster in 2012.
It is a virtual teaching initiative that combines “gamification, 360° animations, 3D immersion, storytelling and a points system to stimulate users’ curiosity”, explains Bonde, who is company CEO. Students having to solve a case as though they were members of CSI is just one example of how to put theoretical concepts into practice so that students assimilate their knowledge better.
Their virtual reality lab offers interactive simulations developed from mathematical algorithms so that students can carry out their investigations. As a study by the company itself together with Stanford University and the Danish Technical University has shown, “Labster’s simulations are 76% more effective than traditional models“. As opposed to formal education, which is based on a more linear structure led by a tutor and where theoretical knowledge is given priority, Bonde supports practical exercises and the students’ curiosity. However, an interesting conclusion of the study holds that when this system is combined with the traditional educational model, productivity improves 101%.
One of the other differentiating advantages that Labster brings is that it favours learning based on trial and error without this needing a greater financial investment. So, whilst making a mistake in a real laboratory involves physical risk and high costs, the same does not apply to virtual facilities.
Mads Bonde has become one of the winners of the Innovators Under 35 Europe 2018 awards from MIT Technology Review in Spanish. His company already has more than 100 employees, and over one hundred educational institutions are using its virtual laboratory. Among the most well-known organisations already using it are Harvard Medical School, MIT and Stanford University.