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Universities and several private companies face constantly the challenge of training new students and employees in the use of their laboratories. Yet the existing space and time limitations along with the high cost and sensitivity of some laboratory instruments, which are therefore not fully exposed to manipulation, as well the safety rules that must be strictly abided by, result to a stiff and not always successful training procedure. Moreover, the trainees don’t usually have the opportunity to make improper use of the equipment and learn by “trial-and-error”; rather they are instructed what to do and what not to do which definitely doesn’t result to the best learning outcome. Onlabs is an educational 3D game simulating the biology lab of the Hellenic Open which attempts to overcome all those obstacles; it provides the trainees with a test-bed virtual, yet realistic, environment, where the aforementioned time and space limitations are not imposed, in order to experiment and make as many mistakes as they wish in order to learn while, on the other hand, their mission is not considered to be accomplished unless they‘ve made the correct steps and in the correct order, too. In Onlabs, the interaction between the user and the environment is adventure-like; the user makes use of the arrow keys to navigate in it and the mouse to press buttons, turn knobs, use specific objects alone or in pairs and collect several of them in their inventory for later use.
Vasilis Zafeiropoulos is a PhD candidate in Artificial Intelligence at Hellenic Open University (HOU) with his PhD thesis being “Computer-Human Learning Interaction in Laboratory Environments. He is also a member of Hellenic Artificial Intelligence Society (EETN). He holds a BSc in Mathematics from University of Patras, Greece and a MSc in Computer Engineering from Mälardalen University of Västerås, Sweden. He has also been educated in the Instruction of Students with Learning Disabilities at the Association for the Psychosocial Health of Children and Adolescents of Greece (APHCA). His work experience include having worked as a Mathematics and Computer Programming teacher for High School and University students in private education, as an Architectural Engineer at “KYMA” structural engineering office and as a Journalist and Science Editor at “Ethnos” newspaper.
His research interests involve, among others, Educational Game Design and Implementation, Ontology Engineering and Machine Learning.