VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTATION ON-LINE COURSE
Distance Learning Systems have been developed in an increasing way and their demand in the educational level and the professional training is higher. On the one hand, by reinforcing and evaluating the acquired knowledge, distance learning systems strengthen and complement presence courses. On the other, they are an alternative to other educational outlines such as short courses (propaedeutic), semi-presence, curricular, specialization, postgraduate, training and updating courses as well.
Moreover, the traditional or presence model in applied engineering subjects is more and more submitted to equipment, supervision and space pressures as the demands of the respective laboratories for the practices and everyday projects´ development is rising. For this reason effective alternatives are required in order to reinforce and complement theoretical and practical contents.
One solution to this situation is to have an alternate on-line and at a distance classroom, in which simulators, hardware, software and equipment located in the own institution can be remotely accessed. Therefore, it is a way to stimulate and empower students to fulfill their institutional objectives. This is specifically considered for the Virtual Instrumentation course.
Virtual Instrumentation is a concept for the design and integration of customized applications for Instrumentation, automation and control systems in real time. It sprang from personal computer´s capacity to replace or complement physical equipment through software, which has permitted the users to interact with their computers as if they were using a real instrument. In the computer, users handle and control virtually the entailed instrument or process.
Virtual Instrumentation is a subject included in the study plan of the Electric and Electronic Engineering degree course at the Engineering Faculty of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is not only for formative character, but also for application and technological development, which has had a great impact and acceptance in the industrial sector.
This paper describes an approach to the development of an interactive on-line course, specialized in Virtual Instrumentation as an alternative to reinforce the current subject. The course is made up of theoretical, practical and experimental topics. In other words, it´s approach is focused on the development and experimentation of Instrumentation and automation systems in real time, with dynamic and interactive features through tutorials, videos, simulators and acquisition data devices.
The course is supported in the Moodle platform (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) which is an open code tool widely accepted in educational institutions all over the world. Moreover, it is used as a procedure system of open and free code courses, which is based on MySQL+PHP technology. Furthermore, it facilitates administration, academic procedures and support of flexible, efficient and attractive environments.