For scientists and engineers, the idea of remote controlled experiments is not a new. Remote control is often used when an experiment or instrument is physically inaccessible by virtue of location or danger. It is also an excellent method for sharing expensive equipment and facilities with other researchers. However, employment of remote laboratory access to deliver the practicum components of distance science courses is much more recent and certainly not as common. Historically, the complexity and technology involved has often dissuaded universal adoption of this method in regularly run laboratory courses. However with the increasing availability and robustness of new technologies, the use of remote laboratories is being explored by many distance educators in the sciences as a viable method of offering a first-class laboratory experience for the student.
Main Focus: The Transformative Income Generation Model
Maximizing the return on investment for online education offerings is possible by evaluating the content in hand, how it is being used in its current form, and if it can be utilized in other ways so that the cost to create online content can be spread over a variety of markets. Designing, creating, and releasing content for one purpose to one market is cost ineffective unless that institution has command over a large portion of the market.
Applying the Transformative Income Generation model, which will be abbreviated as TIG for the rest of this manuscript, is one way to refute the assumption that the only way to increase revenue via online education courses is to increase class sizes. The goal is to optimize the return on investment for online education offerings by analyzing existing or new content and determining the cost effectiveness of re-purposing it to pre-determined markets with a high chance for financial success.
The six steps of the TIG model are presented within Figure 1 and begin with the Internal Audit. The Internal Audit is the first step to determining what is taught online via distance education, what is taught online on-sight, and what is not taught online or uses limited technology. This is a key step towards understanding what is available within the institution for potential re-purposing.
Steps within the Transformative Income Generation Model
Step two, the Audit Analysis, is the review of the Internal Audit data to determine what material can be easily re-purposed as well as the possible market potential for those materials. For example, a distance education course in pharmacology could be re-purposed easier than a course not taught online in anatomy and physiology. It is also important to remember that the re-purposing of materials is not always to the same level for which the materials were prepared, so material originally presented in courses might be re-purposed to not only online courses, but also to continuing education or even as supplemental library resources if it were constructed a certain way. This is not the time conduct a market analysis; that comes later.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Collaboratory: A research laboratory that provides both access to instrumentation and experiments while allowing for communication in a variety of ways. Researchers are not required to be physically present to participate in an experiment.
Experiment: A test or investigation under controlled conditions that is made to demonstrate a known truth, examine the validity of a hypothesis, or to discover an unknown effect or law
Laboratory: A place providing opportunity for scientific experimentation, observation, practice in a field of study, or research
Virtual Laboratory: An interactive environment for creating and conducting simulated experiments where the real world is reproduced within the computer (computer simulation).
Remote Laboratory: An interactive environment offering in situ access to real laboratory equipment, devices, and instruments via a computer network