1 Swansea University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 The MathWorks Ltd (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 7725-7728
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.1571
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
After realising that students did not always understand the electrical theory concepts presented in class, there was a need to search for different teaching methods to train our students to acquire and apply knowledge. As the course is delivered to a large cohort it was vital to look for realistic and manageable solutions that enhance the student experience and better prepare them to think like engineers.

The chosen approach was to offer hands-on practice through the use of a simulation software package that closely simulates the physical lab experience. Virtual labs allow students to explore concepts without stepping into a lab, no hazardous risk involved and available online without any constraints to place or time. And more importantly, the unlimited replays of simulations encourage mastery learning and confidence building.

This paper describes the design and implementation of virtual lab activities in a basic electronics course for a large cohort class of over 200 students. The chosen simulation software package is Simscape Electrical from MathWorks that offers component libraries for modelling and simulating electronic, mechatronic, and electrical power systems. There was no scope to teach how to create a design from scratch and we were concerned that it could potentially demotivate students in a basic electronic course. Therefore, the circuit designs were prepared with visual aids to make it more intuitive and easier to analyse the simulation results. Also, a set of instructions on what to explore and observe were provided to engage and instigate curiosity.

The assessment of the virtual labs poses some challenges due to the class size. Several approaches were explored and a few implemented. The paper presents the process, the students’ and lecturer’s experience and the impact of the virtual labs on the course outcomes. In brief, the overall experience was rewarding, and many lessons were learned.
Virtual labs, e-learning, online learning, evaluation and assessment, large group classes, simulation.