Remote Electronic and Acoustic Laboratories in Upper Secondary Schools

Abstract: During a substantial part of their time young people of today actually live in a virtual world. The medial evolution has also influenced education and today much research work basically concerns the transfer of the physical world into the virtual one. One example is laboratories in physical science that are available in virtual rooms. They enable studentsto sit at home in front of a computer and on screen watch and operate the physical equipment in the laboratory at school. It is a general agreement that laboratory lessons are necessary in subjects such as physics, chemistry and biology. Physical experiments provide a great way for students to learn more about nature and its possibilities as well as limitations. Experimental work can be provided bylaboratories in three different categories; 1) hands-on, 2) remote and 3) simulated. This thesis concerns the usage of remotely controlled laboratories in physics education at an upper secondary school. It is based on work carried out in a joint project between Katedralskolan (upper secondary school), Lund, Sweden, and Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH). The object with this project is to investigate feasibility of using the VISIR (Virtual Instruments System in Reality) technology for remotely controlled laboratories, developed at BTH, in upper secondary schools. This thesis consists of an introduction, followed by three parts where the first part concerns the introduction of the remote lab to students and the usage of the remote lab by students at the upper secondary school, Katedralskolan. Both first year students and third year students carried out experiments using the remote lab. The second part concerns activities carried out by 2 teachers and 94 students using the remote laboratory VISIR. An integration of VISIR with the learning management system used at school is described. Teaching activities carried out by teachers at Katedralskolan involving the VISIR lab are discussed, e.g., an exam including problems of experimental work using the VISIR lab and an example of a student report. Survey results on student satisfaction with the VISIR lab at BTH and the perception of it are presented, indicating that VISIR is a good learning tool. Furthermore, the survey resulted in a proposal of improvements in the VISIR lab user interface. Finally, the third part focuses on enhancements of the VISIR lab at BTH. An improved version in the VISIR user interface is presented. New iPad and smart phone availability of the VISIR lab is presented. Electronic experiments for upper secondary school students are described in detail and examples of suitable configurations are given. A new VISIR acoustic lab has beenimplemented and initial experimentation by upper secondary school students have been carried out. The outcomes from these experiments are discussed.