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The Web was first used as a telecontrol medium in 1994. In recent times, Web-based telecontrol is being used as an educational option, providing students with remote access to laboratory hardware. The literature reporting the initial studies into telelaboratories speaks of encouraging responses from students, but very little literature actually addresses the quality of learning outcomes from this alternative access mode. A recent comparative study at the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, randomly allocated a cohort of third-year students to one of three separate access modes-proximal, Web-based remote, or simulation-to perform the same laboratory class. A range of tools were used to measure the students' learning outcomes and their perceptions of the class. Statistically significant differences were found between the groups in their learning outcomes, students' perceptions of the laboratory class, and the ways in which they engage the learning experience.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2005