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Undergraduate Electronics Students' Use of Home Experiment Kits for Distance Education

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Remote and Network-based Laboratories

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1386.1 - 25.1386.13

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Paper Authors


John Matthew Long Deakin University

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John M. Long completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan in 1987. In 1995, he completed a Ph.D. in physics from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He previously worked as an analytical chemist for General Motors in Michigan. He is now a senior lecturer in engineering at Deakin University, teaching physics, electronics, and materials science.

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Ben P. Horan Deakin University

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Ben Horan completed his Ph.D. in 2009 in the robotics and haptics research field. His current research interests include haptic interfacing, human robotic interaction, and mobile robotics. He is currently a lecturer in the School of Engineering, Deakin University, where he teaches various electronics and robotics units.

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Robynne Hall Deakin University

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Robynne Hall spent 13 years in the photographic industry designing cutting edge commercial print laboratories throughout Australia, maintaining and teaching silver halide and digital printing machines. As a mature age student, she returned to study and in 2002 completed an advanced diploma in electronics. She has since spent 12 months at the Gordon Institute of Technology in Geelong as a Laboratory Technician and tutor. During the past eight years, Hall has been at Deakin University as the Technical Officer for electronics playing a pivotal role in developing new units, assisting research projects and working with undergraduates.

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Undergraduate Electronics Students Use of Home Experiment Kits for Distance Education Laboratory practicals form an essential component in any electronics or electrical-engineering course.Many students choose to study engineering by means of distance education. Providing such studentswith effective and manageable practical experience has always been a significant challenge for thoseinvolved in providing distance education. Several approaches have been presented and trialled,including mandatory weekend attendance at on-campus practical sessions, computer simulation ofpractical electrical and electronic circuits, operating specific electronic experiments by remote controlover the Internet, and the use of electronic kits supplied to the students.Deakin University has employed an experimental electronics kit for teaching laboratory skills todistance students over the past several years. The early kit contained a breadboard and sufficientelectronics components to perform a series of digital exercises such as logic gates, Boolean algebra,basic flip flops; and some limited analog exercises such as transistor biasing and DC op-ampoperation. The chief limitation of the early kit was the inability to use it for performing ACexperiments without an additional AC signal generator and an oscilloscope. Later work saw thedevelopment and introduction of a battery-powered signal generator, and a PC-oscilloscope interfaceand software. We now supply distance students with the original components pack, and an additional“HELP” kit which contains the signal generator, PC-oscilloscope, a basic multimeter, logic probe,software and documentation. The combined kits allow distance students to perform basic DC and ACelectronics experiments at home in both freshman and sophomore electronics courses.Our more recent development is teaching practical electronics from a small robot platform. Thisplatform is designed to enhance the student experience and interest in electronics and mechatronics,while still covering the basic skills necessary for the engineer-in-training. Distance students receivethe robot kit, the components pack, and the HELP kit to allow them to complete a fuller suite ofpractical exercises in electronics in their first two years of study. In this paper, we present thesedevelopments in our practical electronics program and also make comparisons between on-campusand off-campus use of the kits.   

Long, J. M., & Horan, B. P., & Hall, R. (2012, June), Undergraduate Electronics Students' Use of Home Experiment Kits for Distance Education Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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