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  5. Comparative study of distance teaching of Electronics using simulation software versus OpenEngineering Laboratory

Comparative study of distance teaching of Electronics using simulation software versus OpenEngineering Laboratory

Project leader(s): 
Sotiria Psoma

Laboratories are critical to enable engineering students to develop knowledge, skills, deep approach of experimentation and to build successful cross-curricular capabilities and capacities. When designing any electronics course, the laboratory practices are one of the pillars on which the learning is established. In distance education, remote laboratories, virtual laboratories and simulators are the main tools to deliver laboratory practices and particularly remote experiments have become a challenge in electronics courses. In 2016, Loro et al. claimed that in order to bring students closer to industrial world, simulators are a first and economic approach but are still far from providing a deep approach for experimentation and understanding the performance of real components together with their measurement equipment limitations. Web-based learning environments have transformed the roles of instructors, students and course materials so much that a new relationship has emerged between these three elements of learning; and, well-prepared pedagogical approaches must be explored and employed (Fu et al., 2009).

This study is designed to compare distance teaching students’ gain of deeper understanding and life-long learning of the necessary theories of the subject, resulting from learning electronics concepts by using computer simulation (MultiSim) versus OpenEngineering Laboratory.  In recent times, educational institutes use increasingly computer simulations for engineering laboratories with certain advantages at least financially, however with significant educational weaknesses such as the difficulty to assess the level of the in-depth knowledge of basic concepts that is developed by the students. Despite this controversial global trend, OU made a significant investment in OpenEngineering Laboratory for practical lab-based teaching at a distance, covering engineering, electronics, control and signal processing. During the last three years, the OpenEngineering Laboratory has been used for the teaching of the T212 Module and this year for the T312 module. A comparative study is required for reviewing and improving the teaching laboratory material in order to lead to improved student achievements and to consolidate a holistic approach especially for distance teaching engineering courses combining different pedagogical laboratory tools. It will be investigated whether the addition of a relative activity such as Analogue Electronics Laboratory during the Engineering Residential School could strengthen and complement the OpenEngineering Laboratory.  In addition, the involvement and support of the SRSC Manchester will be investigated. At the moment, there are very limited analytics available for the OpenEngineering Lab for statistical analysis and assessment of the student usage of the remote experiments (T212 and T312), thus possible ways to address this issue will be carried out.

In this work, a literature review will be performed on the different applied pedagogical methods, especially for the laboratory elements of engineering courses, and their effects on students’ development of knowledge, confidence, satisfaction, competence and safety; controlling risks from accidental hazards in engineering design and later their professional efficiency.

Sotiria Psoma poster (PDF)