Integration of virtual and remote experiments into undergraduate engineering courses

, , und . Global Online Laboratory Consortium Remote Laboratories Workshop (GOLC), 2011 First, Seite 1 - 6. Rapid City, SD, IEEE, (Oktober 2011)


Experiments play an important role in the education of undergraduate engineering students as they provide hands-on experience on the foundations of the discipline. Unfortunately, the recent change of the university program in Germany from the Diploma to the Bachelor/Master model had a direct negative impact on the curricula and the course schedules. The result of which is that the first-year curriculum is overloaded; exercises or practical courses have been dropped altogether from the first term, have been rescheduled to later terms and have been reduced in length. For this reason, other forms of experimenting have to be developed and integrated into the existing courses or lectures; virtual laboratories and remote experiments offer such an option: they enable students to access equipment 24h/7 days a week, they are independent from opening hours and the work schedule of the staff. Furthermore, simulations do have some other advantages: they provide a better control on the simulated phenomenon, allow observing effects and running experiments that are only very hard to measure or perform in practical applications. Another advantage besides their cost-efficiency is that simulations allow observations of effects in a simplified environment without any measurement errors. Therefore, remote and virtual experiments have already or will soon be set up by various universities across Europe. However, building a pool of experiments sufficient to cover all of undergraduate physics is an overwhelmingly complex and costly task for a single university to handle on its own. Therefore, the EU funded LiLa project - short for "Library of Labs" - is building a network of virtual laboratories and remote experiments. The LiLa Portal provides access to manifold experiments, free to use in courses and lectures. Additionally, LiLa partners will profit from the experience gained from using remote experiments, and the LiLa network will provide best-practices in applications of remote experim- - ents. This article starts with an introduction of LiLa and its aims; it then presents the integration of virtual labs and remote experiments into an existing course, "Physics for Engineers", at the University of Stuttgart. We introduce our concept for exercises with present some results of the pilot phase which took place in the winter term 2009/2010 and also some results on the winter term 2010/2011.

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