Next-Lab (Next Generation Stakeholders and Next Level Ecosystem for Collaborative Science Education with Online Labs) is a European research project co-funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Horizon 2020 Programme. Next-Lab focuses on introducing inquiry-based science education (IBSE) in schools and continues the mission of the project Go-Lab, promoting innovative and interactive teaching methods in primary and secondary schools.
Next-Lab provides a varied portfolio of advanced online learning tools in science topics, which contains hundreds of virtual and remote science laboratories, inquiry learning applications and Inquiry Learning Spaces. Furthermore, there is an authoring tool for teachers they can use to create own cross-curriculum learning scenarios and share them with their students.
Using Next‐Lab, students benefit from the rich, challenging learning experiences, shaping their science and technology knowledge together with social competencies. The innovative tools of Next-Lab guide students though the research process, helping them to acquire in-depth understanding of scientific topics as well as 21st century collaboration and reflection skills.
Next-Lab aims to increase the number of teachers and students involved in the project activities and using inquiry learning tools in their classrooms. Next-Lab addresses in-service and pre-service teachers and serves primary and secondary schools across Europe, providing innovative online learning tools even for younger students to ensure an early positive attitude towards science and technology. Furthermore, Next-Lab addresses teacher training institutions and teacher trainers, who are supported in creating their own training materials and organizing workshops centered around inquiry-based science education in schools. Finally, online lab owners are welcome to publish their remote labs and virtual simulations at the Sharing Platform and increase the visibility and attraction of their tools for diverse groups of stakeholders.
Platform and tools
The Sharing and Authoring Platform bases on the existing platform developed in the project Go-Lab (the Go-Lab Portal), containing remote and virtual science labs, inquiry learning applications, and Inquiry Learning Spaces (ILSs) together with an authoring tool for teachers to create own ILSs. Next-Lab brings the Go-Lab Portal to a new innovation level, launching new features and facilities. Some of them are:
- Collection of apps supporting students in the acquisition of 21st century collaboration and reflection skills as well as tools for self- and peer-assessment
- Collaborative spaces as personal learning environments for advanced students to work on research projects and particular tasks in teams
- An ePortfolio solution the students can use to collect their experiment and analysis results
- The possibility for teachers to collaboratively create Inquiry Learning Spaces
- A recognition scheme for teachers automatically awarding badges to the most active teachers (e.g. those most actively sharing their results with the community)
- A helpdesk for teachers establishing direct contact between the teachers and the support team and providing support on demand