FIRST STEPS IN THE INTRODUCTION OF AUTOMATIC EVALUATION IN VIRTUAL LABORATORIES FOR CONTROL ENGINEERING
With the increased interest in the use of virtual laboratories (VLs) to support teaching in engineering (see e.g.  for their advantages for learning outcomes), one of the current challenge consists in introducing in these interactive tools the choice of automated grading so that faculty staff can reduce the amount of time devoted to correct the large number of exercises that are proposed to students for the evaluation of the different competences within the European Higher Education Area. This situation is even more complicated if one takes into account that enrollment in industrial engineering programs is increasing in the last years.
Strictly speaking, one of the main advantages of the VLs is that, through them, students can carry out an autonomous learning, that is, they acquire a greater responsibility and an active role in the teaching-learning process. Hence, it is evident that the automatic evaluation should be an inherent capability of the VLs to take advantage of all their benefits.
Several approaches have been reported in the literature to include automatic evaluation into virtual/remote labs (VRLs) in, for example, the fields of chemistry , electronics , and control systems . However, from the authors’ viewpoint, deep programming skills are required in some cases to implement such solutions.
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