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Virtual Lab: Bring The Hands On Activity To Online Courses

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.592.1 - 4.592.9

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Biwu Yang

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

Session 3220

“Virtual Lab”: Bring the Hands-on Activity to Online Courses

Biwu Yang East Carolina University


A “Virtual Lab” has been implemented for several online courses with subject around Computer Networking Technology. The objective of this virtual lab is to provide hands-on lab activities to enhance online courses. The virtual lab consists of several computers located on campus. Through remote control software, students can logon to these computers and perform all levels of computer network setup procedures. Several other Internet communication tools are used to provide interaction between the instructor and students. The virtual lab has been in use since the spring semester of 1998. Positive feedback from students shows that the virtual lab is an important integrated component for these courses and the lab activities greatly enhanced their learning experience.

I. Introduction

In recent years, network based online delivery approach has been applied to many disciplines. The online delivery approach was developed to respond to the demand of distance learning. In the model of distance learning, students are far away from a campus and it is very hard for them to take on-campus courses in traditional classroom and laboratory settings. Online course delivery allows the learning to take place anytime and any place, thus makes it possible for students to obtain education without the constraints of distance or working schedule.

There are generally two methodologies used in online course delivery, namely, asynchronous and synchronous methods. With the asynchronous method, an instructor does not interact with students directly (i.e., not in a real-time mode). There are several Internet based tools available for asynchronous communication, such as email, web, FTP, mailing list, newsgroup, etc. With the synchronous method, an instructor and students interact directly in real-time mode. There are also several Internet based tools available for synchronous communication, such as IRC (Internet Relay Chat), audio/video conferencing, and whiteboard. Both methods might be used in an online course based on the need of materials to be delivered 1-2. For example, web pages and FTP site can be used to hold general course materials. Mail lists and newsgroup can be used for discussion in the class. IRC and audio/video conferencing can be used to engage real-time discussion and hold the Question/Answer session for students.

The online delivery approach makes it possible for students, who live far away from a campus and can not afford to attend the school due to their work schedule and family responsibility, to continue their education. Distance learning has several advantages compared with traditional classroom setting, particularly:

• Flexible in time

Yang, B. (1999, June), Virtual Lab: Bring The Hands On Activity To Online Courses Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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