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Assessment of Remote Laboratory Practices in Engineering Technology Distance Education

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2014 ASEE International Forum


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 1b - Session 1

Tagged Topic

Curriculum and Lab Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

20.5.1 - 20.5.13



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Paper Authors


Mert Bal Miami University

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Mert Bal received his PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus in 2008.
He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the University of Western Ontario, and a Visiting Researcher at the National Research Council Canada in London, Ontario, Canada between 2008 and 2010. He was involved in various research projects in the areas of collaborative intelligence, localization and collaborative information processing in wireless sensor networks, intelligent agents, agent-based manufacturing scheduling, systems control and automation, distributed control of holonic systems and integrated manufacturing, agile manufacturing, virtual reality and remote laboratory applications in education. He has authored or co-authored various journal and conference publications in these areas.
Mert Bal is currently an Assistant Professor in the Miami University, Department of Engineering Technology, Ohio, United States of America.

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Assessment of Remote Laboratory Practices in Engineering Technology Distance EducationAbstractIn the recent years, distance learning in engineering education has gained popularity as aconvenient method to meet the increased demand for engineering science and engineeringtechnology degrees. Many universities and colleges utilize multiple synchronous orasynchronous distance delivery modes for teaching engineering courses to students at variousgeographic locations.One of the greatest challenges in distance engineering education is the delivery of the ‘hands-on’laboratory practices. The instructional laboratories have always been essential parts ofengineering curriculum. Due to the size and the high cost of the laboratory equipment, it is oftenimpractical and unaffordable for universities to provide hands-on laboratory equipment todistance learners. Hence quality delivery of the distance laboratory exercises is a problemdemanding solution.Many institutions, offering online engineering degrees have implemented various methods toaddress this problem. Common methods include: providing students Lab Kits that replicatelaboratory equipment using inexpensive scale models; utilizing virtual-reality or similarsimulation tools to provide a sense of digital lab environment to the distance learners; use ofRemote Laboratories that utilize internet to provide distance-learning students real-time remoteaccess for controlling real lab equipment or machines. Most of these methods possess significantadvantages in online or distance engineering laboratory instruction. However, each of the methodstated above also have significant restrictions. For example: Lab Kits are convenient tools forproviding hands-on distance education unless the course requires heavy, bulky or complex labequipment which are impractical to replicate such as: industrial robots; fluid trainers; testinstruments; manufacturing machines etc. Virtual Reality or simulation systems are useful tovirtually replicate expensive and complex machinery used in distance laboratories, but it lacksthe hands-on component in the laboratory experiment, which is highly critical for students’learning.From these aspects, the Remote Laboratory is a potential technology as it has the ability to fillthe gaps in distance laboratory education. Using the internet and World Wide Web, heavy andcomplex lab equipment could be controlled by students from any location. As it constitutesoperating real lab equipment remotely, this approach promises more hands-on feeling to studentsthan simulations. Remote laboratory is a complex system that requires significant developmentefforts. The effectiveness of this approach is typically a function of the problem domain,curriculum and the technology. In order to determine its effectiveness in distance education,careful assessment studies need to be performed in various engineering disciplines.This paper presents an assessment study which mainly focuses on the fundamental problem ofmeasuring the effectiveness of remote laboratories in engineering technology distance education.The objective of this study is determining the influence of remote laboratory in achievingstudents’ learning outcomes.In this paper, we will briefly present the current remote laboratory practices implemented in_____________ University. We will then describe an assessment study performed on a remoteindustrial robot workstation, which is used to perform laboratory exercises in a senior leveldistance-learning course on manufacturing systems. The robotic station is one of the remotelaboratory systems we designed and developed at __________ University for distance-learning.This paper also describes the design and implementation details of this remote robot workstation.For assessment, the presented study combines multiple tools including student laboratory reports,test scores and questionnaire surveys that are designed to record students’ response regardingtheir experience with the remote robotics laboratory station. The assessment results are analyzedusing statistical methods and presented in this paper in order to discuss effectiveness of theremote laboratory in distance-learning.

Bal, M. (2014, June), Assessment of Remote Laboratory Practices in Engineering Technology Distance Education Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--17168

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