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LEARNING ELECTRONICS THROUGH A REMOTE LABORATORY MOOC

Gabriel Daz, Flix Garca Loro, Mohamed Tawfik, Elio Sancristobal, Sergio Martn and Manuel Castro
Dto. Ingenieria Elctrica Electrnica y Control UNED Spanish University for Distance Education

2014, February 10

Gabriel Daz (gdiaz@ieec.uned.es)

Contents
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4. 5.

Introduction VISIR: Virtual Instrument Systems in reality Learning objectives, course structure and practices Positive and negative results Some conclusions
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Contents
1. 2.

3.

4. 5.

Introduction VISIR: Virtual Instrument Systems in reality Learning objectives, course structure and practices Positive and negative results Some conclusions
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Introduction
Recent emergence of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) is promoting different lifelong learning experiences and continuing education models and allowing free access to learning resources at any time and from everywhere However, a significant challenge exists for the provision of real laboratory work online along with the theoretical contents inside MOOCs Also, the practical and the theoretical contents must be designed to support an indeterminate number of users from around the world and with different time zones

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Introduction
A first approach to this problem is clearly the use of simulators and virtual labs But they are still a bit far from bringing to student the real performance and features of equipment under real-life operation conditions We consider all these issues and present a novel approach that integrates remote-accessed real experiments into a MOOC on basic industrial electronics

The MOOCs evaluation and activities spin around the remote laboratory and the objectives and evaluation are focused on the handling of the instruments and measurements
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Some research questions


1- Could a practical oriented MOOC for gaining knowledge in electronics circuits be a good approach for a wide audience? 2- Can the physical limitations of a real remote lab, as VISIR, be managed for allowing many concurrent sessions with a good performance? 3- Is this approach enough for everybody attending the MOOC? 4- Is it possible to do a good learning analytics study for a continuous improvement? 5- Can we obtain ideas for better deployments?
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Contents
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4. 5.

Introduction VISIR: Virtual Instrument Systems in reality Learning objectives, course structure and practices Positive and negative results Some conclusions
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VISIR
The experiments included in the MOOC are based on the remote laboratory platform Virtual Instrument Systems in Reality (VISIR), a remote lab for electric and electronic circuits experiments, developed at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) in Sweden and in use in several universities all around the world The main advantage of VISIR when compared with traditional electronic laboratories lies in its availability that has neither temporal nor geographical restrictions
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Some limitations of VISIR


- The maximum concurrent users queue VISIR can handle is up to 60 (depending on the circuit). - The intrinsic limitations of a real laboratory such as VISIR collide with one of the most relevant features that any MOOC should achieve: scalability - VISIR has also its own reservation system, not compatible with MOOC platform
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Contents
1. 2.

3.

4. 5.

Introduction VISIR: Virtual Instrument Systems in reality Learning objectives, course structure and practices Positive and negative results Some conclusions
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Bases de circuitos y electrnica prctica


- The first edition of the MOOC has been running five months, since May to September 2013, as one of many in UNED COMA platform

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General learning goals of the MOOC


Experimental verification of the laws governing the behavior of electric and electronic circuits. Gaining practical competences in basic electric and electronic circuits. Gaining practical competences in lab equipment used in electronics laboratories. Wider knowledge of the real behavior of basic electronics components. Improving the knowledge for designing electric and electronic circuits. Increasing the use of simulation tools used in the process of electronic circuits design.
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Prerrequisitesor not?
- The knowledge, at least theoretical, on analyzing electrical and electronics circuits and the ideal electrical characteristics of most common components are necessary requirements for participantsbut this is an OPEN course However, supplementary materials are provided, in each module of the MOOC, in order to facilitate the understanding of the behavior and circuits for those participants who, fulfilling only part of the requirements, are interested in following the course or need to refresh the knowledge because of disused.

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Detail of one of the videos at MOOC

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MOOCs reservation system for VISIR


The remote laboratory reservation system has been integrated in the platform of the MOOC in order to ease the identification and registration process for both participants and administrators, so it has been necessary to modify the Measurement server code and to create a resource in the MOOC platform for this purpose.

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Details of reservation system

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Constraints for the reservation system


- The settings used during the MOOC allow: 16 simultaneous users per turn. 60 minutes per turn. 2 simultaneous turns booked. 14 turns per course. - With these settings, VISIR allowed up to 384 students to experiment with any of the designed practices of the MOOC every day.

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Certificates
Students get a course badge by accomplishing that the global grade exceed the cut-off grade point established (80 over 100). - UNED COMA offers two more official certificates: online certificate and in-person certificate. For obtaining any of both, a payment is required. - In the online certificate, the students have to complete satisfactorily the MOOC and request the certificate. - The in-person certificate will take place in one of the 61UNED study centres in Spain and, on demand, outside Spain where a network of collaborating centres is established. The students will have to take an exam from a battery of questions based from the experience obtained from the experimentation and the competences acquired EMOOCs 2014, Lausanne 13/02/2014 -

MOOC platform roles


The MOOC is almost completely based on self-learning and peer to peer collaboration, but there are two different support roles: Curator: the Curator is continuously tracking any possible issue with the reservation system and helping the students to resolve any problem related with the documentation and the tools in the MOOC and general questions. The Curator is in constant contact with the teachers. Teacher: the teacher is accessible for helping with basic problems related with electronics and answering doubts about the activities and theoretical contents. VISIR teacher: The VISIR teacher is responsible of attending the students doubts about VISIR and supervising VISIR errors.

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MOOC structure
Block 1: The purpose of this block is to gather some information: basic data such as age, genre, country of origin, labor situation, etc; training information, previous experience in any kind of laboratories, training, level of knowledge to address the learning outcomes effectively, etc. The means employed for obtain the previously mentioned information are the non-evaluative exams (two non-evaluative compulsory exams throughout the course) and surveys (three optional surveys during the course) Block 2: The main idea behind this module is to give the students a work philosophy on how to prepare laboratory practices. Another objective of this block is to disenchant and/or to cause the MOOCaholics dropout. The purpose of this goal is to restrict the access to the remote lab for those students with a minimum knowledge in the field in which the MOOC relays Block 3: This block is where the students interact with the remote laboratory VISIR and where the designed practices take place.
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Block 2
This block aims to provide students with a work philosophy to follow in the subsequent modules. This work philosophy proposes the students these sequential steps:
- Theoretical analysis of the circuit. - To perform an analysis of the circuit using a simulation tool with the purpose of monitors the time-dependent signals. - To complete the practices within a real environment (laboratory). - To compare the limitations, advantages, differences, etc. between three methods.

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Some details of labs

Module III: Working with resistors. Ohmic values. Voltage divider

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Module IV: RLC circuits. RL, RLC & RC circuits

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Module V: Working with diodes. Differences between 1N4007 & BAT42. Halfwave rectifier. Voltage drops on diode Module VI: Low-pass filter. Mean value, voltage ripple, load regulation and line regulation. Module VII: Zener diode. Zener diode as voltage regulator. Zener diode as clipper. Construction of the current-voltage characteristic curve Module VIII: Operational amplifier. Non-inverting amplifier. Inverting differentiator. Inverting amplifier

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Other details
All documents, guides and videos are in Spanish. In total, the course contains: 42 videos 55 standard multiple choice questions (including single-answer questions and multiple-answer questions) 30 exams multiple choice questions 4 documents covering all the theoretical contents of the course Simulator and VISIR Manuals Practice guide for modules I (simulation) and III to VIII (remote laboratory and simulation) Designed over 30 activities for experiment with the different circuits conceived. Every activity is designed for different purposes, so they have sub-activities associated.
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Contents
1. 2.

3.

4. 5.

Introduction VISIR: Virtual Instrument Systems in reality Learning objectives, course structure and practices Positive and negative results Some conclusions
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Total number of participants: 3036


Pre-course survey data (1670 responses) :
BASIC DATA

- 43% > 36 years old, 33% among 26 and 35, 24% < 26 years old - Only 8,9% are female - 73% spaniards, 6% colombians, 4% mexicans
WORKING SITUATION

- Only 37% are working; 20% studying at the university, 26% out of the university - 17% are neither working nor studying - Only 12% declare they have a grade related with electric or electronics engineering

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Pre-course survey data (1670 responses) :


- 80% said the use of a real laboratory was one of the main factors to enroll the MOOC - More than 90% hoped to gain new skills and competences

Other interesting data:


Non evaluable basic electronics exam (920 responses), 20% passed
- Only 900 participants ended the videos for module 2 - The number decreases to only 100 for the videos of the last module - Only 356 did the assesments for module 2 - The number decreases to only 70 for the last module - Finally, only 70 participants did the final exam and passed (2% of total) Great social activity during first weeks only

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Contents
1. 2.

3.

4. 5.

Introduction VISIR: Virtual Instrument Systems in reality Learning objectives, course structure and practices Positive and negative results Some conclusions
EMOOCs 2014, Lausanne 13/02/2014

Coming back to the research questions


1- Could a practical oriented MOOC for gaining knowledge in electronics circuits be a good approach for a wide audience?
Taking int accoun the number of participants, we can conclude that building a MOOC dedicated to real basic electronic practices is interesting for a large audience A second run of the MOOC has been running, with more than 1000 participants, since November until january, with more or less the same results

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Coming back to the research questions


2- Can the physical limitations of a real remote lab, as VISIR, be managed for allowing many concurrent sessions with a good performance?
- Apparently YES - As we have had not a real stress with many simultaneous VISIR users, we cannot be sure

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Coming back to the research questions


3- Is this approach enough for everybody attending the MOOC?
- Clearly NOT - Although we suggested the possibility of previously enrolling other more theoretical course (as 6.002x Circuits & Electronics MITx), the results indicate that this was not the case - We are working on a much more basic course for really beginners

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Coming back to the research questions


4- Is it possible to do a good learning analytics study for a continuous improvement?
- Clearly NOT - We cannot know the time dedicated to each module by student - We cannot trace the activity of each student, to do personal recommendations - We cannot know the success or fail, and how many times, of the assesments by student - As aconsequence we cannot change on the fly some parts of the course, giving a better service to students - Clearly, the UNED COMA platform code must be changed to allow all these aspects or we must change our MOOCto another platform

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Coming back to the research questions


5- Can we obtain ideas for better deployments?
A) Implementing a much more basic circuits course, in spanish and in english B) Doing a pre-course selection exam? Not so open C) Using the MOOC as a SPOC (Small Private Online Course) as another tool in a more classical blended-learning course Not so Massive.. D) Developing a MOOL (Massive Open Online Laboratory) Not a course?

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Thanks a lot for your attention!

Any question?

Learning electronics through a remote laboratory MOOC


Gabriel Daz (gdiaz@ieec.uned.es)
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