July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
During a pandemic such as COVID-19, many institutions need to increase the portion of online instruction and enforce social distancing in the classroom. It is challenging to maintain the same level of hands-on lab experience, and yet lab experience is essential for many courses and perhaps the most effective pedagogy to help students learn. There are three alternatives to traditional labs: (1) purely virtual simulations, via an app or software, an online platform, or a virtual environment; (2) remote labs to run experiments on actual hardware hosted off-site via internet and parallel access; and (3) individual lab kits so that each student can have a complete set of toolkits to conduct experiments. The choice depends on budget, software and hardware compatibility, and, practically, product availability. The authors explored all three options in summer 2020 and chose the third option across multiple courses in our engineering and technology programs in fall 2020 and spring 2021. This paper will present the exploration results of all three options and provide detailed usage recommendations of the lab kits we chose. For analog and digital circuit labs, there are several crucial functionalities that the lab kits need to provide, such as AC and DC power supplies, oscilloscope, digital I/O’s, or FPGA, and requiring an adequate number of channels for each. Most lab kits integrate Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog converters to achieve such functionalities. The lab kits also need to be affordable and portable. We have tested multiple devices in order to assign appropriate lab kits to several different courses based on course needs. Besides the health benefit to use individual lab kits, every student must be engaged in the individual labs, whereas in group-labs using bench-top devices in a lab setting, some students may hide out when their team members are doing the majority of the work. Understandably, the portable lab kits will be limited in their voltage, current, and frequency ranges, and there will be some courses that require certain lab equipment that are beyond such lab kits’ capabilities. The constraints of the lab kits that we have experimented with will be reported in this paper, as well. The solution presented in this paper provides ideas and inspirations to other institutions, as we share the common goal to maintain and hopefully enhance the students’ hands-on learning experience.
Yan, Y., & Adams, R. D., & Yanik, P. M., & Jack, H., & Ritenour, A., & Karayaka, H. B. (2021, July), BYOE: Individual Lab Kit Options for Analog and Digital Circuits Suitable for In-class or At-home Experiments Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36778
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