Using a remote laboratory for teaching laboratory practices in engineering courses.
In this paper the results reached in the use of a remote control laboratory are presented and analyzed. During both last academic years (courses 2007/08 and 2008/09) a set of remote laboratories has been operational so that the students of diverse subjects of engineering and Universities can perform the laboratory practices through Internet. In engineering studies the accomplishment of practices with physical or virtual systems that complement the knowledge acquired by the students is essential. By means of these laboratory practices and experiments the students can understand and assimilate the theoretical knowledge provided in classical lessons. In this type of technical degrees, is of great importance the use of real physical systems. One of the main problems that must be take into account by education centres is the possibility of having a high number of laboratories and physical systems on which the students can make these teaching practices. Frequently, these laboratories need equipment that is expensive and must be replicated in enough amounts so that the students can realise experiments individually or in groups composed by few students. The use of the remote laboratories, which have arisen during the past few years, allows that the students can accede to these physical systems at any moment and from any location, whenever they have access to Internet. In this way, the use of laboratory equipment is made flexible allowing a more suitable use of it, since it is not necessary to go to the laboratory to realise the experiments. During both last academic courses, an action of educational innovation has started up at the Elche’s Miguel Hernandez University that has allowed a group of students to arrange the traditional laboratory practices with this remote laboratory. This experience has been carried out in subjects related to the discipline of automatic control. Specifically it has carried out in several courses: PLC’s and Control Systems within the degrees of Industrial Engineering and Telecommunications Engineering. Some of the most significant aspects reached in this experience are analyzed in this paper: types of practices carried out during these two academic courses; number of students who have accomplished them; index of satisfaction in the execution of the practices; evaluation and learning success in relation to the traditional practices, etc. Of the experience obtained during these two academic courses it is possible conclude that the results are highly satisfactory from both: the student point of view with a more flexible participation to their needs, and from the teacher point of view that could interact with the student, in specific questions and observe at any moment the degree of learning of the student.