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.


      The 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 via the Internet. 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.

       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).