Asee peer logo

Web Based Educational Experiments

Download Paper |


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

4.597.1 - 4.597.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Selim Unlu

author page

Justin Pniower

author page

Bennett Goldberg

author page

Michael Ruane

Download Paper |

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

Session 3232

Web-Based Educational Experiments

Justin C. Pniower, Michael Ruane, Bennett B. Goldberg, M. Selim Ünlü Boston University


Web-based educational experiments allow remote users to conduct laboratory explorations using physical experimental apparatuses in real time over the World Wide Web. Web-based experimentation is evolving rapidly and offers students convenient and repeated access to limited laboratory resources. The immediacy and accessibility of web-based experiments can also assist new student outreach and faculty teaching effectiveness.

Many web-based experiments can be realized with commercial off the shelf hardware and software, linked through a dedicated laboratory PC with a suitable network connection. Users can control the experimental apparatus, initiate data collection, transfer data across the web, and observe the progress of the experiment using a live video link. We report specifically on two web-based experiments operating since spring 1998: a Michelson interferometer that allows mirror movement and fringe counting, and a laser diode characterization experiment that allows current control and power measurements to observe P-I curves and the onset of laser action. Descriptions include benchtop optical and electronic experimental hardware, LabVIEW software tools for hardware interfacing, HTML web interfacing tools, and the video link setup. We also describe a typical user’s experience across the web, discuss plans for extended web-based experiments and give suggestions for creating and maintaining a successful web-based experiment at another institution.


The World Wide Web (WWW) is a growing vehicle for distance education, but most efforts have treated the web as a communications channel, not as a means for tele-presence. Boston University has been developing several photonics experiments that demonstrate basic principles of science and engineering through active experimental control over the WWW. Visitors to our web-site have real-time control over scientific equipment using their basic web-browsers, and receive observed data across the web. We have found that web-based experiments offer advantages to faculty, students, and general visitors to our web site. Similar efforts are being developed widely1,2,3,4.

Web-based experiments are an excellent complement to traditional lab resources. They can be superior to simulations, which cannot replicate all of the parameters and factors that accompany a real life educational experiment. They also offer an attraction to users who enjoy their live, real-time aspects. Web-based experiments also give educators increased access to engineering resources, especially during experiments that require expensive or fragile equipment or that

Unlu, S., & Pniower, J., & Goldberg, B., & Ruane, M. (1999, June), Web Based Educational Experiments Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1999 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015