June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
This work-in-progress paper is displaying a case study and the connected research in which ready-to-use remote lab equipment in electronics called VISIR (Virtual Instrument Systems In Reality) is used in and adapted to an existing circuits course over one semester at the [university name].
Even though remote laboratories, understood as experimental equipment that can be used from a distance via the internet, have been around as a technical solution in education for several years now, these technologies are not yet widely used in higher engineering education. So far classroom laboratory solutions, which can be found in literature, are mainly stand-alone solutions, which require physical equipment and cannot be used synchronously among several institutions. Taking into account that remote labs are represented as equipment that can solve location, time and capacity constraints in laboratory education, VISIR presents both an economical and pedagogic solution. The introduced VISIR equipment has been developed several years ago and it has been used by several universities around the globe.
The VISIR workbench is equipped with a virtual interface enabling students to recognize the benchtop instruments including a breadboard which can be used on the student’s computer screen. The equipment intends to reproduce tactile learning by emulating required operating functions, such as grabbing components, and rotating instrument knobs. Hence, in VISIR it has been replaced by a telemanipulator, i.e. a switching relay matrix, which the student can control by wiring on a virtual breadboard. When the user has made all wiring as well as settings of the instruments and has pressed the ‘Perform Experiment’ button to send them to the workbench, the desired circuit is created and the experiment is performed in fractions of a second. The result is returned to the user. A time sharing scheme allows many users to experiment simultaneously i.e. the workbench is equivalent of a laboratory equipped with many traditional workbenches.
VISIR has been introduced to an existing circuits course with around 20 students, who use VISIR in conjunction to existing physical hardware. The introduction of VISIR theoretically opened up the opportunity to the students to (1) independently prepare themselves before class with the help of the remote equipment, (2) actually do the in-class experiment online instead of hands-on, and finally (3) recap concepts learned in class by autonomously performing additional experiments. Even though the students did not take advantage of all three options to the same extent, this paper will discuss the students experiences based on this year’s usage. Furthermore experiences with regard to the technical and organizational introduction process itself will be in focus.
Data is a collected over one semester using qualitative evaluation methods such as participatory observation during experimentation procedure and focus interviews with lecturers and students after the course. Initial results will be displayed in the paper. The paper will also discuss the opportunities and challenges of such solutions on a meta level. Using remote labs does mean to cut off parts of reality and context during the experimental procedure. The question is if and to what extend this is beneficial or not for the learning process. This program will evaluate the efficacy of remote-laboratories, and its capability to supplement necessary kinesthetic learning, an integral component of STEM education. The paper will discuss this along the VISIR example.
May, D., & Trudgen, M., & Spain, A. V. (2019, June), Introducing Remote Laboratory Equipment to Circuits - Concepts, Possibilities, and First Experiences Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33017
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