At the moment, there is an increasing risk of dropouts in Higher Education because of incomplete digital learning environments. Traditional, theory based distance learning can be organized technically well, but students do not have natural social interaction with each other, and there is a risk of exclusion. In addition, learning outcomes may remain low. Especially, this concerns laboratory exercises which are an essential part of engineering training. If these cannot be arranged at all due to COVID19 pandemic limitations, it will be impossible to perform the studies.
There are several technical and practical possibilities that can solve the problem and help to organize the necessary, motivating and safe laboratory exercises for students safely:
- Creating high-quality laboratory videos enriched with interactive content and possibility to adjust process parameters, making it feasible for students to run experiments on-line.
- Facilitating interactive live sessions together with students and laboratory staff.
- Opening laboratory hardware for remote access in such a way that students can safely work with the equipment from distance.
It is obvious that we must also be able to organize laboratory teaching at a distance, because otherwise it will become impossible to complete professional degrees. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop and establish novel methods and tools by available technology to enable virtual practical training in laboratory environments.
Thanks to the technical solutions and practices developed and implemented in this project, students and educators are prepared to meet current challenges caused by the COVID19 pandemic and will be able to successfully continue studies. Additionally, this new type of virtual laboratory environment opens novel possibilities and insights for bigger change in engineering education, for example enabling better e-learning through shared virtual laboratories.
Partners will benefit from the opportunity of ERASMUS+ programme in support transnational cooperation among participating countries – Germany, Finland, Sweden and Estonia. This is a valuable opportunity to mutual learning, sharing expertise, exchanging practices, developing and testing innovative approaches and resources in different cultural and technical environments to better support distance learning and tackle challenges caused by the global crisis.