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A Pilot Study of the Effectiveness of Augmented Reality to Enhance the Use of Remote Labs in Electrical Engineering Education

Abstract

Lab practices are an essential part of teaching in Engineering. However, traditional laboratory lessons developed in classroom labs (CL) must be adapted to teaching and learning strategies that go far beyond the common concept of e-learning, in the sense that completely virtualized distance education disconnects teachers and students from the real world, which can generate specific problems in laboratory classes. Current proposals of virtual labs (VL) and remote labs (RL) do not either cover new needs properly or contribute remarkable improvement to traditional labs—except that they favor distance training. Therefore, online teaching and learning in lab practices demand a further step beyond current VL and RL. This paper poses a new reality and new teaching/learning concepts in the field of lab practices in engineering. The developed augmented reality-based lab system (augmented remote lab, ARL) enables teachers and students to work remotely (Internet/intranet) in current CL, including virtual elements which interact with real ones. An educational experience was conducted to assess the developed ARL with the participation of a group of 10 teachers and another group of 20 students. Both groups have completed lab practices of the contents in the subjects Digital Systems and Robotics and Industrial Automation, which belong to the second year of the new degree in Electronic Engineering (adapted to the European Space for Higher Education). The labs were carried out by means of three different possibilities: CL, VL and ARL. After completion, both groups were asked to fill in some questionnaires aimed at measuring the improvement contributed by ARL relative to CL and VL. Except in some specific questions, the opinion of teachers and students was rather similar and positive regarding the use and possibilities of ARL. Although the results are still preliminary and need further study, seems to conclude that ARL remarkably improves the possibilities of current VL and RL. Furthermore, ARL can be concluded to allow further possibilities when used online than traditional laboratory lessons completed in CL.

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Correspondence to A. Mejías Borrero.

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Mejías Borrero, A., Andújar Márquez, J.M. A Pilot Study of the Effectiveness of Augmented Reality to Enhance the Use of Remote Labs in Electrical Engineering Education. J Sci Educ Technol 21, 540–557 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-011-9345-9

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Keywords

  • Robotics
  • Digital design
  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual worlds
  • Virtual scenarios
  • Online education
  • Augmented reality lab