Virtual and Remote Laboratories in Distance Education
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3rd Annual Forum on e-learning Excellence in the Middle East, Dubai, UAE, (February 2010)

Practical exercises in the laboratory form a cornerstone of academic education in engineering and natural sciences. Besides experiment and theory nowadays, simulations become increasingly relevant. In particular in distance education, due to the absence of in-class teaching a comprehensive IT infrastructure is necessary, allowing for the mutual use of a broad variety of remote controllable experimental set ups and virtual laboratories through students and professors. So far, such solutions have mostly been limited to individual universities and research institutions. Since these are yet by construction available over the Internet, and thus independent of the location, the challenge is to build a comprehensive web-based portal infrastructure for experimental set ups under open source/access/content policy. In this article we discuss the underlying architecture, give some examples of typical components and highlight our background and motivation.
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