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Home News Didattica Laboratory sessions in the coronavirus times

Laboratory sessions in the coronavirus times

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Laboratory sessions in the coronavirus times

G.Mazzilli, F.Picariello, S.Rapuano
Department of Engineering, University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy


The emergency due to the spread of coronavirus, with the consequent continuation of the suspension of teaching activities in Italian Universities, fostered the reawaken of the debate on distance learning. The spread of the epidemic pushed all Universities in Italy and many abroad to adopt extensive forms of distance teaching [1]. Any type of school currently adopts similar solutions in Italy, from the primary ones [2]. The solutions chosen are the most different: web-based platforms for streaming lessons (Webex, Microsoft Teams, etc.) [3], YouTube, dedicated apps and finally, in some schools, the students’ parents receive the tasks for their children through group chats on WhatsApp.

While on one hand lectures on distance are supported by the availability of e-learning platforms, laboratory activities involving the use of electronic measurement instrumentation have not yet seen the necessary diffusion in the remote education context. This is even more surprising considering that widely used paradigms, like the Internet of Things, have the same enabling technologies as those used for the creation of remote laboratories.

Laboratory activity is in itself an educational challenge, because practical knowledge is critical to complete training in technical-scientific disciplines and therefore to educate good professionals. In particular, in teaching electrical and electronic measurement, from academic courses to life-long learning in the field, students should gain practical experience working under realistic conditions and using real instrumentation. However, the electrical and electronic measurement laboratories, both public and private, are not widespread, mainly because of their costs, and this complicates the training of specialist technicians, especially in the fields of process control, quality control and test engineering.

Remote control of instrumentation for carrying out real experiments via Internet has been a topic of interest for many researchers [4-6]. In particular, the University of Sannio, in collaboration with several Italian and foreign Universities and the Association of Electrical and Electronic Measurements Group, built the Remote Didactic Laboratory - LA.DI.RE. "G. Savastano" in the early 2000s, http://lms.misureremote.unisannio.it/ funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research through some PON projects. The LA.DI.RE. is a measurement laboratory remotely accessible. The heart of the services provided is the integration of a learning content management system with measurement instrumentation remotely controlled via Internet.

Based on the experience gained with the LA.DI.RE. pilot laboratory, considering the situation created by the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, the researchers of the measurement group of the University of Sannio updated of the remote control functionalities to allow students enrolled in the measurement courses of the University of Sannio to carry out remote experimental activities. The same approach could be extended to other disciplines that require the use of instrumentation in the laboratory.

For example, at the link:
the students registered on the Misureremote web platform can perform an experiment that aims to assess the uncertainty associated with measuring the voltage output of a voltage divider. The uncertainty must be assessed by the student according to the JGCM 100:2008 - Guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement. This experiment is part of the courses of Electronic Measurement and Measurement Fundamentals held by Prof. Pasquale Daponte and Prof. Francesco Lamonaca within the degree programs in Electronic Engineering for Automation and Telecommunications and Energy Engineering respectively.

In addition to having all the documentation and manuals necessary to conduct the experiment and evaluate the readings of the instrument, the student can follow both a video tutorial on the correct execution of the experiment and observe, via a webcam, the instrumentation and the circuit used.

The remote experiment is a very simplified example of the advantages that remote access to laboratory instrumentation can offer to distance learning. The challenges and opportunities that underlie distance learning applied to laboratory activities are however common to the contexts allowing smart working approaches (another theme widely discussed during the world health emergency), as well as to the topics related to Industry 4.0. Think of the possibility for a worker to control his equipment from home and at the needed time, or the possibility of conducting long measurement campaigns in hostile or inaccessible environments.

[1]    https://www.agi.it/estero/news/2020-03-10/coronavirus-universita-usa-lezioni-online-7423733/
[2]    https://www.istruzione.it/coronavirus/didattica-a-distanza.html
[3]    http://www.regione.campania.it/regione/it/news/primo-piano/coronavirus
[4]    G.Canfora, P.Daponte, S.Rapuano, “Remotely accessible laboratory for electronic measurement teaching”. Computer Standards & Interfaces, vol.26, 2004, pp. 489–499.
[5]    A.Baccigalupi, M.Borsic, P.Carbone, P.Daponte, C.De Capua, A.Ferrero, D.Grimaldi, A.Liccardo, N.Locci, D.Macii, C.Muscas, L.Peretto, D.Petri, S.Rapuano, M.Riccio, S.Salicone, F.Stefani: “Remote didactic laboratory “G. Savastano”: the Italian experience for the e-learning at the technical universities in the field of the electrical and electronic measurements: architecture and optimization of the communication performance based on thin client technology”. IEEE Trans. on Instrumentation and Measurement, vol.56, No.4, August 2007, pp.1124-1134.
[6]    A.Baccigalupi, M.Borsic, P.Carbone, P.Daponte, C.De Capua, A.Ferrero, D.Grimaldi, A.Liccardo, N.Locci, D.Macii, C.Muscas, L.Peretto, D.Petri, S.Rapuano, M.Riccio, S.Salicone, F.Stefani: “Remote Didactic Laboratory “G. Savastano”: the Italian experience for the e-learning at the technical universities in the field of the electrical and electronic measurements: overview on didactic experiments”. IEEE Trans. on Instrum. and Meas., vol.56, No.4, August 2007, pp.1135-1147.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2020 16:44  




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6 apr 2009 Laurea Honoris Causa in Engineering to Prof. Pasquale Daponte

from l'Universitatea Tehnica "Gheorghe Asachi" of Iasi, Romania: "for outstanding contributions in the field of Electrical Measurements and for Important contribution to the development of the collaboration between our Universities"

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