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Collaborative Learning In Laboratory Oriented Courses Using Web Conferencing For Shared Control Of Physical Laboratory Experiments

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Distance, Remote, and Virtual Experiments

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.369.1 - 12.369.9



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Paper Authors


Trishna Das University of Minnesota-ECE

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Trishna Das, received BE degree in 2005 (in Electrical & Electronics) from College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, India. She is currently a graduate student in the University of Minnesota, pursuing MS leading to PhD in Electrical Engineering. Her areas of interest are power electronic devices and drives.

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Paul Imbertson University of Minnesota-ECE

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Paul Imbertson received the BS (’83) MS (’94) and PhD (’97) in electrical engineering, all from the University of Minnesota. He has worked in power electronics for military avionics and is currently an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota, where he has been voted Best Professor five times. His current interests include the wide ranging topics of energy and deciphering the minds of electrical engineering students.

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Ned Mohan University of Minnesota

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Ned Mohan is an Oscar A. Schott Professor of Power Electronics Systems
at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. His research areas are
Power Electronics, Electric Drives and Power Systems. He has authored
or co-authored five books on these subjects and written several
technical articles. He received the Distinguished Teaching Award from
the University of Minnesota in 1998 and is a Fellow of the IEEE.

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

Collaborative Learning in Laboratory Oriented Courses Using Web Conferencing for Shared Control of Physical Laboratory Experiments


The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota has embarked on an innovative method to conduct the laboratory component for its Electric Drives course. The method involves exploiting the versatility of the Adobe Breeze 5.1 package, which can create a computer interface for users to actively participate from remote computers in ongoing experiments. Apart from the instructor being able to demonstrate the experiment to students, she can also actively involve the students by giving them remote control of the experiment. So the experiment can be performed in a collaborative manner by giving control to each group of students or individual students with all students having viewing privileges. The students can get a real-time experience using this new method. The cost of laboratory setups can be greatly reduced using this method. The method allows a large number of students to perform experiments using just one physical laboratory setup. Hence the university can reduce its investments on laboratory apparatuses and invest on the software, which is much more cost effective.


In traditional laboratory courses students follow a laboratory manual to perform experiments. In the typical two hour laboratory session the students are required to set up and perform the experiment, take the necessary readings and obtain the results. The laboratory instructor helps the students with any trouble they face with the apparatus or the procedure.

Students generally have difficulty in laboratory courses even though the corresponding theory has been extensively covered in lecture sessions and detailed laboratory manuals describing the laboratory facilities and the procedures are handed to them well in advance. One reason for their difficulties is that they are not familiar with the laboratory environment that contains machines and relatively complex measurement methods and devices. Time constraints during the laboratory experiments add to the difficulties. Because of these time limitations, students often rush through the experiments in order to finish them on time, which unfortunately prevents them from appreciating what has been accomplished in the laboratory practice1.

To address these difficulties, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota has implemented a new method of conducting the laboratory component of its Electric Drives course. This method addresses the student's difficulties by creating a collaborative, group working environment where students can share and build off of each other's efforts. The method is based on integrated use of computer and computational tools. These tools include the Adobe Breeze 5.1 package, Matlab Simulink and Real Time Workshop, dSPACE and Control Desk.

The computational tools also enhance the laboratory experience by providing students with the opportunity to verify the results of the laboratory experiments and compare them with those

Das, T., & Imbertson, P., & Mohan, N. (2007, June), Collaborative Learning In Laboratory Oriented Courses Using Web Conferencing For Shared Control Of Physical Laboratory Experiments Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2644

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