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The Higher Education Sustainability through Virtual Laboratories: The Spanish University as Case of Study

Esther Salmerón-Manzano () and Francisco Manzano-Agugliaro ()
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Esther Salmerón-Manzano: Faculty of Legal, Social and Human Sciences, Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), Av. de la Paz, 137, 26006 Logroño, Spain
Francisco Manzano-Agugliaro: Department of Engineering, ceiA3, University of Almeria, 04120 Almeria, Spain

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 11, 1-22

Abstract: Education has been integrated into the globalization process supported by technological advances such as e-learning. The sustainability of the universities is one of the key points of the university survival, and they strongly depend on the number of students that can enroll in them. Thus, many of the educational institutions have had to develop their curricula based on the use new technologies. Without a doubt, virtual laboratories are the latest technology in this regard. The objective of this work is to determine which are the main institutions and research trends in relation to virtual laboratories. The methodology followed in this research was to perform a bibliometric analysis of the whole scientific production indexed in Scopus. The world’s scientific production has been analysed in the following domains: first the trend over time, types of publications and countries, second the main subjects and keywords, third main institutions and their main topics, and fourth the main journals and proceedings that publish on this topic. After that, a case study was analysed in detailed as a representative country (Spain). The most productive institution in this field, Universidad de Educación a Distancia (UNED). If the ranking is established by average citations per published paper, the first three institutions are from the USA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Washington (Seattle), and Carnegie Mellon University. The scientific categories at world level and in the case of study are similar. First, there is the field of engineering followed by computer science and above all it highlights the wide spectrum of branches of knowledge in which this topic is published, which indicates the great acceptance of this teaching methodology in all fields of education. Finally, community detection has been applied to the case study and six clusters have been found: Virtual Reality, Users, E-learning, Programming, Automatic-robotics, Computer Simulation and Engineering Education. As a main conclusion, bibliographic analysis confirms that research in virtual laboratories is a very active field, where scientific productivity has exponentially increased over recent years in tandem with universities growth. Therefore, expectations are high in this field for the near future. The possibility of virtual laboratories opens up new perspectives for higher education sustainability, where the educational policies of countries could be reoriented.

Keywords: university; teaching innovation; virtual laboratories; learning; Spain; sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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