We identify patterns of group collaboration within hands-on and remote laboratories. The pattern of group collaboration includes three elements: the collaboration mode, the communication medium and the collaboration structure. In addition, we examine how patterns of group collaboration evolved during different phases of the labs. Based upon our observation of 22 engineering students, we found two common patterns of the collaboration mode in both hands-on labs and remote labs: in one case, students seem to minimize cognitive effort, and in the other, they continue to do what they have been doing before. We also described the different types of communication media and collaboration structure in the two labs. Face-to-face meetings were found to be the dominant method of group communication in both labs, but students adopted a wider variety of communication methods when working with remote labs, and they interacted more with each other when they ran remote labs.