Labster is a virtual lab simulator that offers immersive digital experiences across a wide variety of science and engineering disciplines. Within the simulations, students guide an avatar through virtual experimental procedures. Tasks include data collection, instrumentation, analysis and even putting on a lab coat and gloves.

Labster is fully integrated into Sakai, meaning you can insert virtual labs directly into your course Sakai site. Student performance on labs is trackable within the Sakai Gradebook.

To get started, browse the simulation catalogue to see descriptions and accompanying materials for each lab. To test a simulation, click on the simulation title and then click the green “Play Simulation” button.

This page covers:

  1. Downloading simulations from the Labster website
  2. Loading simulations to your Sakai site
  3. Helpful hints
  4. Troubleshooting

Getting started with Labster

Please do not hesitate to contact Duke Learning Innovation at learninginnovation@duke.edu with any questions regarding Labster. Our team will be happy to assist you in configuring Labster simulations for your Sakai site.

To add Labster virtual simulations to your Sakai site, you must first download the simulations from Labster’s webpage using Chrome or Firefox. Then, you can load the simulations to your Sakai site.

Downloading simulations from the Labster website

  1. Navigate to the Faculty Resources Page using either Chrome or Firefox. Click Upload to LMS from the menu at the top. Then, click Add Simulations to Your LMS.

2. Search simulations by subject or keyword. For each simulation you would like to add, click the blue “plus” icon. When you are finished choosing simulations, click the green Download button at the bottom of the screen. All simulations will be downloaded together as a single zip file.

3. On the next screen, select Sakai. Then, click Download Common Cartridge File.

Loading simulations to to your Sakai site

4. Navigate to your Sakai site. Enable the Labster tool by clicking on Site Info, Mange Tools, and checking Labster under External Tools.

By default, this step creates a new tool on the left side of your Sakai site called Labster. Your students will not need to access this tool; rather, they will access the tools created in the subsequent steps. Therefore, you may wish to hide the tool called Labster by clicking Site Info, Tool Order, and using the gear symbol to the right of Labster to make the tool invisible to students.

5. Next, select a Lessonspage on your Sakai site (by default, Lessons pages are titled Lessons or Weeks, depending on the course template). If you do not have a Lessons page on your site, then see these instructions for how to create one.

6. At the top of the Lessons page, click More Tools. Then, select Import CC/CP from the drop-down menu.

7. In the pop-up window, select the zip file that you downloaded from the Labster website in Step 3.

8. A new Lessons page has been added to your Sakai site. By default, this page is called Labster Simulations and it is located near the bottom of the menu. Click on Labster Simulations to navigate to the new page. Notice that all simulations downloaded in Step 3 are loaded onto this new page.

9. For each simulation, complete the following:

  1. Click on the simulation name
  2. Enter the key and secret. Duke users can access the key and secret here. The key and secret are the same for all Labster simulations. Hint: make sure there are no extra spaces after the key and secret.
  3. Optionally, modify the tool title and/or button text.
  4. Optionally, modify the Custom Parameters. These parameters determine what happens when a student performs a lab more than once. There are two options: ‘send_attempts=all’ means that all lab grades are sent to the Sakai Gradebook, but only the most recent is displayed. ‘send_attempts=best’ means that only the best lab grade is sent to the Gradebook.
  5. Click SAVE.

10. For each Labster simulation, click the edit icon to the right of the tool and select New Window to configure the simulations to open in a separate window.

Labster simulations are now configured for your Sakai site. Students can access simulations by navigating to the Labster Simulations page of your site. When a student completes a lab, their grade will be automatically sent to the Gradebook. You do not need to create an “assignment” or a new column in the Gradebook; Labster will create a new column in the Gradebook automatically. See this resource for help setting up your Gradebook in Sakai.

Students and instructors can also access grades on the Labster Dashboard. The Dashboard can be accessed by clicking the menu icon in the upper-left corner of any simulation.

Helpful hints

Putting Labster simulations on a different Lessons page

You may want to include Labster simulations on Lessons pages other than the one that is automatically generated. To add a Labster simulation to any Lessons page, first open the Lessons page. Then, click Add Content and then Add External Tool.

Then, select a Labster simulation from the list.

Finally, choose a Tool Title and Button Text for the simulation and click Save. You do not need to enter keys or custom parameters – these have already been set in Step 8.

Changing a student’s grade to a previous lab attempt

If you configured your Labster simulations with the parameter “send_attempts=all”, then only the most recent lab grade will be displayed in the Sakai Gradebook. To view all student attempts on a particular lab, open the Gradebook and click the dropdown menu in the cell where the grade is located. Then click Grade Log. All grade attempts will be visible in a pop-up window. You can change the grade by manually typing the desired grade into the cell.

Troubleshooting

Incorrect configuration

If after configuring your Labster simulation in Step 8 you see the following message, then the key and secret have been entered incorrectly. Hint: Make sure there are no extra spaces at the end of the key and secret.

If you see the message above, then you must remove and then re-install the simulation. Remove the simulation by going to Site Info and then selecting External Tools.

To the right of the simulation that you would like to remove, click Delete.

Then, return to Step 5 and re-import the Labster simulation.