The chapters will be distributed in five sections. For each section, apart from the book editors, there will be one invited section editor. Along with the book editors, this invited section editor will synthesize the contribution of the chapters (for a given section) and will prepare a section summary, and connections to the other sections. The section titles are:
The main objective of this section is to introduce the reader to several system architectures that have proven successful in many online laboratory settings. The first online laboratory developments were reported in the late-1990s. Since then the emergence of new technologies has influenced the design structure of these developments and has allowed remote laboratories to have new features and capabilities.
This section will include chapters describing the state-of-the-art structure of remote laboratories as well as ongoing and potential future development. Authors are encouraged to include sufficient detail to enable an informed decision as to which approach best fits your needs. These chapters will describe the technologies used along with pedagogical issues to keep in mind while designing the architecture. The section will also provide a comparative picture of various technologies and developments. In addition, there will be an effort to report the standardization outcomes that are conducted by professional organizations to streamline online laboratory development.
The advent and subsequent evolution of mobile technologies have had a profound impact on traditional educational systems. Traditional hands-on laboratories, although universally accepted as indispensable, suffer from two major shortcomings: cost of laboratory equipment for individual laboratories and accessibility constraints that force the physical presence of laboratory users. The confluence of remote laboratories and mobile learning represents a particular challenge as it needs to promote different learning styles and strategies. These learning strategies can provide inquiry-based, experiential, and collaborative learning activities while offering the convenience and advantage of mobility.
This section will include chapters describing real-life experiences in the area of online laboratories from both technological and educational points of view. The chapters will describe the technologies involved in the development of mobile online laboratory activities as well as discuss the learning principles and pedagogical premises they are based on. This will require a more interdisciplinary approach concerning the conceptualization of, examination of, and reflection on mobile online laboratories and their possibilities and limitations.
Online labs are becoming available for instruction at a rapidly increasing speed. Teachers recognize the potential of online labs but have trouble finding the right pedagogical structure to embed them in their lessons. Pedagogical questions concern, for example, the timing of the lab in the curriculum (before or after expository instruction), the amount of freedom to hand over to students, the type of guidance provided to students and the fading of this support over time, the way learning with online labs can be shaped as a blended learning experience, the differentiation of the lab experience for students with differing prior knowledge and/or inquiry skills, the inclusion of gamification in online labs, and the combination of wet labs and virtual labs as well as how to effectively use labs for developing conceptual knowledge and/or professional skills, how to shape students’ collaboration when learning through an online lab, etc.
This section of the book will collect experiences and evidence on the effective use of online labs in the context of a diversity of pedagogical issues. The set of chapters will cover a large range of domains, student age levels, and instructional settings to provide readers with a comprehensive view of the field.
Considering the advancement of computer and networking technologies and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) researchers and academics have taken an interest in developing laboratory facilities with remote access. Although there are many initiatives for these developments, only a handful of these facilities are in use for laboratory activities. These developments involve selection of laboratory experiments and development of the computer interfacing, networking for remote access, system security, learning management system, and pedagogical design.
This section will include chapters that illustrate successful online laboratories to highlight best practices as case studies. The chapters will describe the technological design strategies, implementation details, and classroom activities as well as learning from these developments.
Although there is considerable interest in online laboratories, for various reasons, there is not much use of these in terms of classroom activities. As it is now, only a few groups have been successful in developing effective online laboratory facilities. One of the main reasons is the absence of significant off-the-shelf products/tools to use for online laboratory development. We will reach sustainability in this important field of technical and science education only if there are commercial tools available on the market.
There are initiatives to develop commercial software and hardware products/tools/services, and some have already been used successfully to develop laboratories and play a significant role in moving this area forward. Considering this, these chapters will describe the creation and deployment of commercial products, tools and services for online laboratory development. The section will also provide an idea about the developments that are on the horizon to support this area. In this effort, the editors have made initial contact with a number of leading companies who are working with these developments.