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Virtual and remote robotic laboratory: comparative experimental evaluation

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3 Author(s)
C. S. Tzafestas ; Sch. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Athens Univ., Zographou, Greece ; N. Palaiologou ; M. Alifragis

This paper describes the development and experimental evaluation of an e-laboratory platform in the field of robotics. The system in its current configuration is designed to enable distance training of students in real scenarios of robot manipulator programming. From a technological perspective, the research work presented in this paper is directed towards the adaptation of concepts and techniques developed in the field of telerobotics and virtual reality, and their integration in such e-laboratory settings. This paper focuses particularly on the educational impact of such systems. The goal is to assess the performance of e-laboratory scenarios in terms of the efficacy of training provided to students. The results of a pilot experimental study are presented, providing a comparative evaluation for three training modalities: real, remote, and virtual training on robot manipulator programming. The experiments were conducted according to an evaluation protocol specially designed for the considered target training task, using scoring charts to obtain quantitative performance measures and assess the performance of the student groups participating in the course. Training, as a dynamic process, is approached according to a classical three dimensional model, and performance scores are accordingly assessed in these dimensions (namely: low-level versus mid and high-level skills and understanding). The obtained results reveal certain differences between the three groups, particularly as related to the low-level skill training score, giving some insight about the training `dimensions' that are expected to be mostly affected by the absence of physical (or realistic virtual) presence in a real hands-on experimentation. Statistical analysis indicates, however, that, despite these apparent differences, such e-laboratory modules can be integrated quite effectively in practical scenarios, creating virtual training environments that can provide adequate learning elements, as related p- - articularly to mid and high-level skill acquisition. Further work and large-scale studies are still needed, though, in order to explore the extent to which such a general conclusion is valid in different training settings, and to form the basis of a more theoretical evaluation for a comprehensive understanding of the pedagogical differences between real, virtual, and remote learning/training methodologies and experiences

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IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 3 )