Learning scientist and head geek. Formally Labster CTO
2016 in review: 2017 moving (quickly) forward
Force equals mass times acceleration is as true in the natural world as it is in organizational dynamics. Here at Labster, we have roughly doubled in size each of the past two years and our 'acceleration' has grown exponentially. Moving into 2017, we have a lot of positive momentum driving us forward. But before we launch into our 2017 preview, let's take a look at what happened in 2016 to set us on this course.
2016: Retracing our steps
2016 was filled with many positive activities, ranging from expanding our amazing Labster team to include 34 additional team members, to nearly doubling our simulation catalog from 30 to nearly 50 unique offerings. Our current team brings knowledge, heart, commitment, and experience in exponential relation to their number, and our simulations are directly benefiting from their skills. As a result, our dynamic organizational culture is becoming a cornerstone of the value that we offer to clients and partners.
In 2016, we explored additional ways to create deeper student outcomes via technological tools, including increasing our research on VR. We launched our first app on Google Daydream, which quickly became successful. This new simulation was the direct result of grant funding that we received in 2015 to start adapting educational tools to VR-based technologies. While VR-based education solutions are not the benchmark in the educational landscape, we want to be ready if it achieves that mark!
Labster also extended its global reach last year in a variety of domains. This is just a sample of some of our collaborations and milestones:
- We spent time in Dubai participating in the inaugural Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) event (30 teams participated, out of an applicant pool of nearly 3000 applicants). The DFA increased our visibility in the Middle East, and helped to develop Labster’s partnership network.
- Labster partnered with new distribution partners, including EduTech and eLearning Media, to bring our simulations to new educational systems.
- Labster launched subsidiaries in both the UK and USA to better meet client needs in both regions.
- Labster partnered with approximately 60 new universities and learning institutions, and we have strengthened relationships with existing clients across over a dozen countries.
- And finally, Labster’s TED talk on ‘This Virtual Laboratory will Revolutionize Science Education’ passed the one million viewer mark, and hundreds of people from across the globe have reached out to us to engage on various topics rooted in the future of education.
Finally, in 2016, one of our favorite projects at Labster, LabBuilder, won the Overall 2016 Reimagine Education Award, the ‘Oscars’ of our industry. We are not sure if we are ever going to stop glowing from this honor. Please feel welcome and invited to read more about our reaction here.
To give a quick summary, LabBuilder will be the manifestation of a long-held Labster dream. LabBuilder is a Lego-like solution that enables anyone to design and build their own virtual laboratories. In LabBuilder, users can practice problem solving, hypothesis-testing and critical thinking in their own synthesized lab environment using the latest multi-million-dollar equipment, techniques and reagents. It is a complicated undertaking, involving collaborations across all internal work groups, but when it is complete, it will truly be a game-changing innovation.
Accelerating into 2017
We are only two weeks into the new year, but already 2017 is shaping up to be just as breakneck and purposeful as 2016. To begin with, we have already released our first three new simulations of the year: Diabetes, Smooth Muscle, and Invertebrate Model System. Expect around 40 more simulations this year (including at least one VR-based simulation) in these fields: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, and Medical Sciences.
Next, because of our involvement in numerous 2015 and 2016 conferences, events, and client meetings, we have prioritized developing closer relationships with our customers and partners across the globe. Our list of 2017 conferences reflects the breadth and depth of these relationships, and includes events in the USA and Canada, across Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and Asia.
In early 2017, look for the Labster team at:
- HEA STEM 2017, 1-2 February in Manchester, UK
- Jisc’s Digifest, 14-15 March in Birmingham, UK
- GESS Education Awards, 15 March in Dubai, UAE
Also, Labster’s partners EduTech have nominated us for an award at the GESS event. Hopefully we will have some good news to share with you soon! Tune in to our Facebook page to follow our teams’ travels (friends in North America – expect a lot of updates on Labster crossing the pond in the Spring)!
Labster is also engaged in state-of-the-art research on the use of VR in education together with a consortium of thought leaders (including researchers at UC Berkeley, University of Exeter, Stanford, and Copenhagen University). We are currently coordinating several grant-funded, multi-million-dollar projects with our partners in order to better leverage technology to create better, unique, and scientifically-supported learning experiences for students.
On that note, Labster is following up our participation in the ELIG 2016 conference on Learning Places of the Future with increased collaborations with key European stakeholders to help shape and meet the needs of evolving learning places. This helps ensure that Labster is putting the needs of the community first, and that we have the necessary knowledge to be agile and continuously adapt our simulations and services to meet client needs.
Also, in 2017, we look forward to the publication of more peer-reviewed research about the impact of our work on students. We also look forward to even greater collaborations with universities while developing our simulations. Additionally, we look forward to improving our developmental work on grant-based collaborations. And lastly, we look forward to ‘future-proofing’ universities and educators against the changing technological landscape.
Finally, we are planning on a sneak-peek into the LabBuilder project in summer 2017.
And lastly (really now) but by no means least, thank you all for being a part of our success. Education does not exist for its own benefit, but rather for the greater good. This aspiration resonates strongly within Labster as we endeavor to give science students the educational tools that they need to change the world.