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Computerised laboratory in science and technology teaching - part 2

EUROPEAN COMMISION

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ComLab2

Computerised laboratory in science and technology teaching - part 2 "ComLab-2"

Project period: 1st October 2005 to 31. September 2007
Project N: SI-05-B-F-PP-176008

ComLab-1

Code: N SI 143008; period: January 2001 to January 2004.

The main objective of the ComLab project was to integrate different ICT tools in science and technology teaching. Two aspects were emphasised:

a) "Real laboratory" exercises, based on a computer data acquisition and control system, recognising that importance of practical experimentation and laboratory work has not decreased in the era of ICT.

b)
"Virtual laboratory" activities, based on computer simulations of various science phenomena and complicated, expensive and/or inaccessible devices.

Both aspects were integrated through example courses based on interactive html documents. In the courses, computer supported practical experimentation was upgraded with computer simulations and other multimedia components (video clips, animations, graphics, etc). The courses are available on the ComLab website and they can be also installed off-line.
The ComLab-1 final products therefore comprise novel state-of-the-art courses, hardware and software. All material is designed in such manner to enable simple translation to other EU languages.
The project's main target groups are trainee teachers of science and technology as well as people interested in autonomous learning of science and technology based on ICT.

ComLab-2

The ComLab-2 project aims to continue and widen the recent ComLab-1 project. The objective of integrating "real" and "virtual" computerised laboratories in science and technology teaching remains. Since the effectiveness of the ComLab design for integrating science disciplines was ascertained during the first project, ComLab-2 extends this aspect of the integration of physics, biology and chemistry to associated technology disciplines such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, agriculture, food industry, etc.
The primary target groups are in-service and trainee teachers/lecturers of science and technology topics for the pupils/students of 12 years and over as well as to trainees involved in adult education. Besides secondary education, the project also extends activities to post-secondary vocational colleges and higher professional schools. Moreover, ComLab-2 aims to bring science and technology topics to autonomous learners of different ages.

Courses developed within the project will be applicable as possible models for all sectors where practical experience in true laboratories are combined with the virtual world.

Final products

The main outcomes of the project will be further courses involving computer supported science and technology laboratory exercises.

Some of the courses developed within the first ComLab project will be broadened and enhanced. In addition, ComLab-2 a number of new courses directed at achieving efficient support of science disciplines to associated technology fields will be developed. The courses will emphasise the practical approach often described by expressions such as "by example", "hands-on", "through experiments", "low cost", "do it yourself", "by exploration", etc.

An integral part of the course development will be the design and production of new software as well as laboratory equipment. In addition to these technical issues, the course material will be informed by modern ideas on the didactics and methodology of computer supported learning in science and technology education.

lnkint See the description of the products developed within the Comlab-1 project as well as outlines of the ComLab-2 products.

Keywords

Science education, technology education, engineering education, computer-based laboratory, data acquisition, models of computer controlled devices, multimedia, computer simulations, educational laboratory equipment.