June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.45.1 - 15.45.11
A LabVIEW-based Integrated Virtual Learning Platform
With the current economic downturns where educators are constantly confronted with further budget cuts, fewer resources, and larger class sizes, online (or web-based) learning is receiving more attention than ever before. One key advantage of online learning is that it can provide direct delivery of education at anytime from anywhere to anyone, and thus, enhancing institutional learning to wider student population when resources are limited1. Furthermore, various research results have indicated that online learning and training are in fact as effective as traditional face-to-face learning, at least in terms of measurable academic achievements2,3.
Advances in computer, communication technologies, and interactive multimedia on the World Wide Web (WWW) continue to expand the effectiveness of online and web-based learning4. Today, vast number of educational software tools and packages are available to educators in order to expand their course delivery beyond traditional face-to-face classrooms. The Adobe Connect5, Centra system6, Blackboard, and WebCT are just a few popular examples to mention. Unfortunately, high cost and lack of adequate IT support in many cases prohibit utilizing and incorporating these tools in the discipline-based classes.
Another major issue with many of the existing content management educational tools is that they cannot be easily customized such that existing lectures, simulation applets, and laboratory activities can be utilized. For example, popular tools such as WebCT or Centra, don’t even support remote laboratory capabilities. In fact, to the best of our knowledge, there is no commercially available tool that offers a unified platform to support diverse learning tools, such as video conferencing and chatting, configurable remote laboratory, simulation modules, and downloadable course lectures with different formats.
Motivated by such shortcomings, we have developed an integrated distance learning platform that enables course material sharing and collaboration between various institutions and instructors in order to provide a cost-efficient and flexible learning and training delivery to multiple remote users. In this paper we describe basic features of our prototype platform called the Integrated Virtual Learning Platform (IVLP). A unique characteristic of IVLP is that it is entirely based on LabVIEW software, providing a user-friendly and configurable distance learning development environment. A key advantage of IVLP is that it offers remote access to a collection of online learning tools, such as laboratory experiments, lectures, simulation applets, and tests, while allowing remote students to chat in real-time and participate in virtual face-to- face communication with the instructor. We emphasize that IVLP is still in its prototype stage and requires further testing and enhancements and this paper only reflects our initial results.
The rest of this paper is organized as follow. In Section 2 we briefly describe the basic course delivery model used in IVLP. In Section 3 we describe the architecture and then we go over the layout and implementation of IVLP and provide details about individual modules of the system.
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