Facility-based inspection training in a virtual 3D laboratory

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In order to train postgraduate students in the evaluation of a quality system in the pharmaceutical industry, it would be desirable to have installations constructed in accordance with the quality standards. This is very costly and unusual in universities. Virtual 3D worlds allow simulating immersive professional contexts for training. The first aim of this project is to design and construct a virtual analytical laboratory adapted to good laboratory practices (GLP) in the Second Life™ (SL) virtual world. The second aim is to set up a practice based on the inspection of the virtual laboratory installations. Finally, the students’ acquisition of knowledge and satisfaction were assessed. The laboratory is available online on the Usalpharma Island of SL. The installations, equipment and tools were created using SL’s building tools. During two academic years, a total of 30 students made an inspection of the laboratory to identify and classify nonconformities of a GLP quality system (supplementary video). They report the results in an assessment report. The following evaluation of the practice shows that the scores concerning the assessment of skills (7.1 ± 0.5 out of 10) and knowledge acquired (7.8 ± 0.3 out of 10) met the expectations of the authors. In an anonymous questionnaire, 81 % of the students assessed the experiment as satisfactory. The virtual laboratory allows, at very low cost, training postgraduate students in facilities not available at university. Tools like this could be implemented not only at universities, but in professional field in order to assess competencies or support the essential lifelong learning of the laboratory staff.

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The authors are particularly grateful for the assistance given by laboratory technician José Armenteros del Olmo in the construction of the tools, attention to the students and working with his avatar in the laboratory.

Conflict of interest

The authors stated that there are no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this article. There is no funding to support this study.

Author information

Correspondence to C. Maderuelo.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Video 1 Screen recorder during the students’ practical exercise in the Virtual Laboratory (USALPHARMA Lab) (MOV 6499 kb)

Video 1 Screen recorder during the students’ practical exercise in the Virtual Laboratory (USALPHARMA Lab) (MOV 6499 kb)

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Maderuelo, C., Martin-Suarez, A., Pérez-Blanco, J.S. et al. Facility-based inspection training in a virtual 3D laboratory. Accred Qual Assur 19, 403–409 (2014) doi:10.1007/s00769-014-1065-4

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  • GLP principles
  • Facility-based inspection
  • Virtual worlds
  • Virtual laboratory
  • Second Life
  • Pharmaceutical education