Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

The next step for e-learning: science experiments online

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Learning online, or e-learning, has opened up an exciting new way to deliver training and education to more people, when they want it. The FORGE project wants to push e-learning into new territory by developing a way to conduct scientific experiments online in an open format using FIRE facilities.
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Learn to network with FIRE

**UPDATE** 25/09/2014

If you are new to networking, it can be a struggle to understand the theory without putting it into practice. So FORGE has launched a networking training iBook that includes hands-on activities in real experiment and testing facilities.

The EU’s project for developing online training, FORGE, has designed an iBook that introduces users to networking basics. Blending text-based material with interactive exercises, courses in the book have direct access to real equipment labs and remote access test beds.

The remote equipment is provided by FIRE, the EU’s internet research project. FORGE is part of FIRE, so it is a natural combination that aims to give users an engaging and authentic learning experience.

Designed for the iPad and Mac operating system (10.9), the interactive 350Mb iBook gives users the perfect opportunity to start building networking skills through practical experience.

To get a sense of how the courses work, click here for click here for FORGE’s teaser video. If you like what you see, you can download your own copy of the book from the FORGE website here.

The next step for e-learning: science experiments online

18/03/2014

EU countries spend an average of around 6% of gross domestic product (2009 figures) on education. With public budgets under pressure in some countries, e-learning could provide a cost-effective alternative.

Techniques for e-learning are already quite developed. Information and communications technologies ICT have allowed educators to create a wide range of e-learning methods, varying from one-way assisted-learning systems to highly dynamic and interactive platforms. And online learning has become an important component of informal and formal education, whether for personal interest, at work, or to attain a certificate from an established provider.

One way to encourage its further evolution is to provide e-learning facilities for scientific experiments. Achieving this goal requires two main components: the ability to conduct remote test bed experiments and online platforms capable of interacting with those test beds.

FORGE aims to bring these two components together by leveraging FIRE’s experimentation facilities for the development of e-learning materials. The FORGE team will also build a framework where teaching and educational materials, tools and experiments become available to educators and students through open scheme policies.

TO LEARN, TO EXPERIMENT

The ability to conduct experiments is key to learning, especially in the engineering field. However, conducting an experiment is often expensive, difficult to do, and may require specific guidance during the process so as to avoid mistakes or injuries to the experimenter.

Simulation can sometimes replace physical experimentation for some engineering topics. However in most areas, physical experiments are mandatory. Physical experiments allow engineering students to fully understand design procedures, practical limitations and trade-offs.

In this sense, both physical experimentation and simulation can contribute to engineering education and be integrated on the same computer-based platform. Laboratories can provide remote access to experiments and can allow students to access experiments without time and location restrictions, providing the necessary guidance and constraining operation in order to avoid setup integrity issues.

The remote laboratory concept provides a means to sustain a learner-centric teaching approach as experiments can be available all the time. Thus the FORGE framework will allow educators and learners access to FIRE’s high-performance test bed facilities for conducting scientific experiments. These facilities cover a wide range of different domains belonging to the Future Internet ecosystem, such as cloud computing platforms, wireless and sensor network test beds, software defined networking and OpenFlow facilities, the infrastructure for high-performance computing, long-term evolution (LTE) test beds, and smart cities.


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