Remotely Controlled Laboratory (RCL) - since 2004
Real experiments are central and essential in the teaching of physics at school and at university. There is still an ongoing debate on how far can real experiments be substituted or complemented by multimedia, in particular, in distance education. Remotely controlled laboratories are viewed as one important component in delivering real physics experiments and in teaching a variety of skills related to practical work.
principle of a remotely controlled laboratory consists of a real
experiment set up at our department, for example, and the
off-campus student at home can control this experiment
Of course, the principle of remote operation has been known for
years in research and technology. The merit here is that we
exploited this technique in the field of physics education.
During the last decade we have set up about 20 remotely
controlled labs. We have solved technical problems, such as the
video transfer of data by means of web cameras, and didactical
requirements, i.e. how an RCL should come along in comparison
with the real on-campus lab.
The homepage of the RCL project which is now hosted at Universität der Bundeswehr (Munich) can be found here.
Details on this and brief reviews on similar efforts worldwide have been already published in journals (in English: European Journal of Physics 2007 - pdf, American Journal of Physics 2008 - pdf; in German: Praxis der Naturwissenschaften - Physik in der Schule 2005 / Plus Lucis 2006 - pdf).
Of these RCL experiments we have described eleven in detail as a book. The topics we deal with are - besides general remarks on remote labs - technical realization, learning environment, assigned problems and evaluation. The experiments can be adressed to college or first-year university physics level. The book (in English, uncorrected proof) can be downloaded as pdf (12MB).
The German version of the book appeared electronically as part of Digitaler Unterrichtsassistent by Ernst Klett Verlag (Stuttgart, Germany) for German secondary schools. The manuscript of the book can be downloaded as pdf (in German, 17MB).