THE NEW APPROACH TO ENGINEERING COURSES BASED ON THE RECONFIGURABLE LABORATORY ENVIRONMENT
The article presents the next stage of works on a new approach to the use of modern IT techniques in the process of gaining practical knowledge by first-cycle (undergraduate) and second-cycle (graduate) technical students. Its content is directly related to the development of the system presented as part of last year's conference ICERI2017 in the article: Next generation classroom is based on the idea of collaborative, data-oriented programming. This system confirmed its usefulness, especially in the area of design and research works, carried out mainly on master's courses. On the other hand, based on our observations over the last few semesters, an important barrier to its use was the need for a good knowledge of advanced IT tools and mechanisms that constitute the key components of this system. Effective use of the system in the lower level of an education process (e.g. in engineering courses) required action in three main areas: (1) standardization of data collection and analysis modules and matching them to the laboratory infrastructure used, (2) providing a simple and quick method of configuring the infrastructure of laboratories in order to implement many courses without any conflicts and (3) adapt the curriculum at particular courses (laboratory classes) so that they can use new teaching possibilities for faster and most importantly more effective achievement of learning goals. The main premise for this article is a detailed presentation of the assumptions, actions and achievements within these three areas.
The article, in reference to the area: (1), describes the idea of building a repository of IT tools cooperating with the already existing technical infrastructure of the laboratory. The assumption adopted in this part is the development of standard interfaces allowing the connection of existing data sources (meters, laboratory sensors etc.) with functional modules in the form of Docker software containers. Thanks to this, any measurement data available in the form of standard communication protocols and I / O protocols is available in our proposed system.
Next, we present the solution of automatic distribution of the container set prepared for the technical infrastructure of a given laboratory (area (2)). Systems architectures used in such a reconfigurable laboratories are developed by the teachers and saved in a dedicated configuration database. It allows to quickly and easily modify the content of individual exercises so as to match the individual didactic requirements of the course, but also a specific group of students and then their repeated use. An important feature of the system is the short implementation time of the infrastructure (quick reconfiguration of individual laboratory stands). Thanks to this, the time and commitment of teachers are redirecting mainly to the development of the best programs to exercise and to substantive help for students.
In the third part, we present our experience related to the new possibilities that our system offers to both students and lecturers (area (3)). In this part, we present how to enrich the syllabuses of classes so that the data analysis is based on predefined functional blocks, implemented in the same reconfigurable environment as the measurement system.
The article ends with our conclusions from the implementation of the system and the opportunities and disadvantages noticed, which together will constitute the area of further actions.