File(s) under permanent embargo
Undergraduate electronics students' use of home experiment kits for distance education
conference contributionposted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by John LongJohn Long, Ben HoranBen Horan, Robynne HallRobynne Hall
Laboratory practicals form an essential component in any electronics or electrical engineering course. Many students choose to study engineering by means of distance education. Providing such students with effective and manageable practical experience has always been a significant challenge for those involved in providing distance education. Our university has employed an experimental electronics kit for teaching laboratory skills to distance-education students over the past several years. The chief limitation of the early kit was the inability to use it for performing AC experiments without an additional AC signal generator and an oscilloscope. We now supply distance-education students with the original components pack, and an additional “HELP” kit which contains the signal generator, PC-oscilloscope, a basic multimeter, logic probe, software and documentation. The combined kits allow these students to perform basic DC and AC electronics experiments at home in both freshman and sophomore electronics courses. A more recent development is introducing a small robot platform intended to enhance the student experience and interest in electronics and mechatronics, while still covering the basic skills necessary for the engineer-in-training. Distance-education students receive an updated experimental kit containing the robot, other equipment and components to allow them to complete a fuller suite of practical exercises in electronics in their first two years of study. Within this paper, we present these developments in our HELP kit and also make comparisons between on-campus and off-campus performance.