This chapter presents the development of a modular Internet-based laboratory facility using cutting edge technologies along with its implementation for offering a laboratory course. The modules are developed using commercial products and are adaptable with a variety of laboratory experiments with little effort or maintenance cost. The developed facility has in-built capability to collect systems’ operational data that are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the system and assess the students learning behavior. Provision was also made to assess the level of learning while using the facility. An Internet-based laboratory facility involves real laboratory equipment being controlled remotely over the Internet that enables students to get access to laboratory equipment any time from any location, where most laboratory equipment is idle for a major part of its working life. Having these advantages, there is very little effort or interest within the academic community to implement the Internet-based laboratories for course offerings due to the complexity of operation, complicated design, extensive maintenance effort, higher implementation cost, lack of human interactions, and ethical issues. To address these problems the author has developed this modular Internet-based laboratory facility and studied its performance through a laboratory course.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Interfacing: A provision (combination of hardware and software) that needs to be provided to connect a computer/computing system with any other system for data transfer.
Web Server: A special type of computer that is mainly used to host a web site.
Client: User of the Internet-based laboratory facility.
Input/Output Card: An electronic board that constitutes the hardware part of interfacing.
Graphical User Interface: A graphical screen that is used between an user and underlying process so that the user can manipulate the process without much knowledge about the process itself.
Control Group: The group of student who has not used the Internet-based laboratory facility.
Modular Based System: A system that has been designed by using independent modules, where any of these modules can be changed or updated without affecting other modules connected with it.
Test Group: The group of student who has taken used the Internet-based laboratory facility.
Web Server: A computer that hosts a web page or web site.
Web Publication: The process of posting of GUI within a web server for user access.
Internet-Based Laboratory: A facility where laboratory experiments can be performed over the Internet.