Universite de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (FRANCE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 6791-6799
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.1369
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Distance learning is growing easier and faster with the pandemic situation all over the world. In this context, universities have chosen to offer e-learning solutions to students. To answer this issue for practical works, it appears decisive to use robust and easy-to-set-up software and hardware solutions.
It seems essential to provide to the teachers a simple, reliable and versatile tool. Since 2011 we have developed and used a remote laboratory called Laborem. The current version is using only open source software running on a single-board computer (SBC). A motherboard as been developed allowing the student to choose among sixteen groups of electrical circuits (plugs) to be studied. The teacher can change the plugs as well as the input/output connections to the instruments via standard sockets.

In order to evaluate the best possible scenario for the students, different ways to access the laboratory will be analysed and compared.

To meet the growing need for practical work in higher education, an open source software and hardware solution has been developed. It is easy to use for students and teachers, adaptable to different scenarios and easily reproducible.

The software used by Laborem, presented in ICERI 2019, is based on a python Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software whose web interface offers a high level environment to provide real time access to practical works of first and second year of electronics for undergraduate students at IUT de Bayonne.
All student's activities during the remote experiment, such as questions and settings are stored in the administration interface. The teacher selects the course and the HMI profiles he wants to set up.

Since Laborem platform is integrated into a Moodle Learning Management System (LMS), the accesses and results of each user can be compared. Laborem is part of a hybrid scenario where students have completed a first sequence of the course by a hands-on way followed by a distance learning session.
For the second sequence, the typical scenario consists of a video presentation, a pre-requisite test, an online course, a formative test, remote practical work with three levels of difficulty (beginner, intermediate, advanced), a final summative test with the uploading of a report and a satisfaction survey.

To determine Laborem's effectiveness and satisfaction, a promotion of students was divided into three groups to compare different usage scenarios.
By modifying two criteria, individual or paired passage and free or restricted access, the use (frequency, duration, regularity), the results (completion, grades) and the satisfaction (feelings, expectations) of each group are compared.
For example, one of the results of the passages in pairs and in restricted access showed a greater regularity due to the organization necessary to be connected at the same time.
As for the open access students, few use more than a third of the available time.

Finally, as remote labs must be easy to adapt and to duplicate, the option chosen by Laborem to use open software, standard protocols and low-cost hardware offers an interesting solution.
This advantage allowed us to quickly adapt the platform to the total or partial closure of French universities since March 2020. Our work is now aimed at improving and identifying the limits of the massive use of distance practical works in order to address the problems of isolation of students.
e-learning, student motivation, lab work, online education, remote laboratories, SCADA