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A Unique Web Environment For A Remotely Accessed Laboratory

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Web-Based Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.103.1 - 10.103.8



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Paper Authors

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Heather Cooper

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3120

A Unique Web Environment for a Remotely Accessed Laboratory Heather L. Cooper, David W. Goodman Purdue University


Web-based learning is a hot topic; both online courses and remotely accessible laboratories are widespread. Implementation of various course management systems and other distance learning resources has become common for online courses. Similarly, many new approaches to web- enabled data acquisition have been developed for online laboratory experiments. This paper describes a new online framework for laboratory experiments that combines existing elements of online courses and laboratories. The web environment integrates the instructional design and assessment capabilities of WebCT VistaTM with real-time remote monitoring and control of energy equipment, resulting in a unique online laboratory package. The framework supports multiple lab experiments in which Mechanical Engineering Technology students throughout Indiana analyze energy equipment that is physically located on the West Lafayette campus of Purdue University. The paper includes feedback on the web environment from its deployment in the Fall 2004 and Spring 2005 semesters.

Remote Laboratories Background

The Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program at Purdue University offers associate degree programs at seven different locations throughout the state of Indiana. Common learning objectives for MET courses are used at all locations to ensure consistency, but laboratory facilities vary significantly between locations. The main West Lafayette campus has enough enrollment and resources to support laboratory facilities that are more sophisticated and extensive than those at the six other smaller locations. Providing online access to this modern equipment would allow an improved educational experience in locations where funds are not available to duplicate the equipment and experiments used in West Lafayette.

Students in West Lafayette have been using two commercially available web-enabled control systems for several semesters to monitor existing solar energy and building automation equipment. A more recent version of one of these systems is the WebLiteTM software by KMC Controls, Inc. A typical WebLiteTM controls interface is shown in Figure 1, which students use to access real-time data from the solar energy equipment in West Lafayette. It was desired to make these web-enabled control systems available to students for energy laboratory experiments at all MET locations throughout Indiana. Since the summer of 2003, considerable work has been completed to update the control systems and their user interfaces, to design a website for information about and access to the systems, and to develop an interactive web environment containing all of the instructional design, real-time data acquisition, and assessment components of the remote laboratories.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Cooper, H. (2005, June), A Unique Web Environment For A Remotely Accessed Laboratory Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14990

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