Distance learning and skill acquisition in engineering sciences: Present state and prospects

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9 Citations (Scopus)


AbstractPurpose – The purpose of this work is to present an improved concept of software-based laboratory exercises, namely a Virtual Laboratory for Engineering Sciences (VLES)Design/methodology/approach – The implementation of distance learning and e-learning in engineering sciences (such as Mechanical and Electrical Engineering) is still far behind current practice in narrative disciplines (Economics, Management, etc.). This comes about from the fact that education in technical disciplines requires laboratory exercises providing skill-acquisition and hands-on experience. In order to overcome this problem for distance-learning developers and practitioners, a new modular and hierarchically organized approach is needed.Findings – The concept involves simulation models to emulate system dynamics, full virtual reality to provide visualization, advanced social-clubbing to ensure proper communication, and an AI tutor to supervise the lab work. Its modularity and hierarchical organization offer the possibility of applying the concept to practically any engineering field: a higher level provides the general framework – it considers lab workplaces as objects regardless of the technical field they come from, and provides communication and supervision – while the lower level deals with particular workplaces. An improved student’s motivation is expected.Research limitations/implicationsThis paper promotes and argues for a software based approach using VLES for laboratory exercises necessary for the teaching and learning of science and engineering subjects. The concepts presented has the potential to change mode of delivery of lab based programmesPractical implicationsThe possibility of changing approaches adopted for teaching of laboratory based science and engineering subjects. Further development of technology integration in education.Originality/value – The proposed concept aims rather high, thus making the work truly challenging. With the current level of ICT, some of the required features can only be achieved with difficulty; however, the rapid growth of the relevant technologies supports the eventual practicality of the concept. This paper is not intended to present any final results, solutions, or experience. The idea is to promote the concept, identify problems, propose guidelines, and possibly open a discussion.Article type: Research Paper
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-88
JournalMulticultural Education and Technology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2013


  • Distance learning
  • Engineering disciplines
  • Laboratory exercises
  • Virtual laboratory
  • Robot.


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