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Stephen Murray

Biography

Steve Murray's professional background includes industrial computer systems development in Australia and the UK. He joined the UTS in 1993, having previously spent six years working on projects in industrial automation and flight simulation. After arriving in the Faculty of Engineering, he directed almost all of his efforts to the teaching and learning programs. As well as developing and delivering a great number of undergraduate and postgraduate coursework subjects, and completing a term as Program Head of the Computer Systems Engineering and Software Engineering programs, he has authored and co-authored several papers and a book chapter on topics related to remotely accessible laboratories. He was the team leader of a group which was honoured with a UTS Teaching Award in 2005 for work in this area, and received a 2006 Carrick Citation for work on remote laboratories.

Senior Lecturer, School of Computing and Communications
Core Member, Centre for Real-Time Information Networks
BE (Ncle), MEngSc (UNSW)
Member, Australasian Association for Engineering Education
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 1553
Room
CB11.08.116

Research Interests

Technical development of a remotely accessible laboratory:

This project has been a faculty-funded initiative aimed at developing a strategy for the technical development of remotely accessible laboratories, and has been evolving successfully since 2000. Current plans are to extend the present infrastructure to incorporate facilities for virtual group collaboration during the conducting of remotely accessible experiments.

Remotely accessible laboratories – Enhancing learning outcomes:

A joint UTS – Curtin Institute of Technology project funded by the Carrick Institute, to measure the effect of completing experiments remotely on student learning outcomes. This project involves the identification of learning outcomes pertaining to conventional proximate laboratories and examination of the effects on these outcomes when experimentation is completed remotely.

Indoor atmospheric monitoring and control:

This CRIN project is based on the management of a collection of distributed sensor networks so as to permit the real-time gathering of data relating to indoor atmospheric quality. Extensions planned will incorporate prediction and control strategies.

Book Chapters

Lowe, D.B., Conlon, S., Murray, S.J., Weber, L., Nageswaran, W., De La Villefromoy, M.J., Lindsay, E., Nafalski, A. & Tang, T. 2012, 'LabShare: Towards Cross-Institutional Laboratory Sharing' in Azad, Abul; Auer, Michael; Harward, Judson (eds), Internet Accessible Remote Laboratories: Scalable E-Learning Tools for Engineering and Science Disciplines, IGI Global, Hershey PA, USA, pp. 453-467.
Conventional undergraduate teaching laboratories are valuable in terms of their contributions to students learning but are generally costly to develop and maintain and often have extremely low overall utilization rates. These issues can be addressed through cross-institutional sharing of laboratories. This is, however, limited by the overarching requirement that students are physically co-located with the laboratory apparatus. In this chapter we will describe the nature of the challenges with regard to cross-institutional sharing and the potential benefits that can be achieved if a solution can be found. A possible solution is the use of remote laboratories that can be accessed across the internet with a suitable model for laboratory sharing that promotes both institutional and individual engagement. We describe the characteristics that such a model should have and show how the Labshare project is providing a nation-wide model within the Australian Higher Education context.
Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J. & Kong, X. 2011, 'Wireless Sensor Resource Usage Optimisation Using Embedded State Predictors' in Mohammad S. Obaidat and Joaquim Filipe (eds), e-Business and Telecommunications - ICETE 2009, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp. 320-331.
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The increasing prevalence and sophistication of wireless sensors is creating an opportunity for improving, or in many cases enabling, the real-time monitoring and control of distributed physical systems. However, whilst a major issue in the use of these sensors is their resource utilisation, there has only been limited consideration given to the interplay between the data sampling requirements of the control and monitoring systems and the design characteristics of the wireless sensors. In this paper we describe an approach to the optimization of the resources utilized by these devices based on the use of synchronized state predictors. By embedding state predictors into the sensors themselves it becomes possible for the sensors to predict their optimal sampling rate consistent with maintaining monitoring or control performance, and hence minimize the utilization of limited sensor resources such as power and bandwidth.

Conference Papers

Tawfik, M., Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J., De La Villefromoy, M.J., M, D., M, S., E, A., Mj, D. & G, C. 2013, 'Grid remote laboratory management system', International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Sydney, Australia, February 2013 in 2013 10th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, REV 2013, IEEE, Piscataway, USA, pp. 0-0.
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Remote laboratories have become a useful educational tool. There is a common, though often not well-articulated, distinction between the remote laboratory that provides the experimental experience for students, and the supporting Remote Laboratory Manage
Lowe, D.B., Mujkanovic, A. & Murray, S.J. 2010, 'Policy-Based Remote Laboratory Multi-User Access Management', Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2010 in REV 2010: 7th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed Auer, Michael; Karlsson, Goran, Kassel University Press, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 65-70.
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Remote laboratories have been seeing increasing utilization, though to date only a small proportion of these incorporate support for collaborative experimentation. Where this support is included the collaborative groups are typically formed in a very ad hoc fashion. In this paper we introduce an approach to managing access of the collaborative remote labs that explicitly address the formation of groups in a way that handles diverse requirements, including those related to pedagogic, operational, and organizational considerations. The approach uses policies that can draw on aspects such as student meta-data, rig availability, and group dynamics to automatically perform the allocation of students to groups. We discuss the general architecture for the system as well as example of the policies that may be applied.
Yeung, H., Lowe, D.B. & Murray, S.J. 2010, 'An Investigation into Supporting Interoperability of Remote Laboratories', Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2010 in REV 2010: 7th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed Auer, Michael; Karlsson, Goran, Kassel University Press, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 71-79.
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There has been growing interest in, and development of, remotely accessible laboratories as a mechanism for improving access and flexibility, and enabling sharing of facilities. Differences in focus, philosophy, approach or domain have led to quite different technical solutions in supporting remote laboratories. Whilst this diversity represents a significant strength in terms of the ability to explore different issues and support diverse applications, it does however potentially hamper the sharing of labs between different institutions. Investigation into interoperability between two remote lab platforms has realized a need for a common application protocol to achieve the goals remote labs aims to provide. We describe our approach to providing a bridge between two current remote laboratory architectures + Labshare+s Sahara and MIT+s iLabs + and report on the issues that arise with regard to the protocol translations.
Krastev, B.N., Lowe, D.B. & Murray, S.J. 2010, 'Release Planning - Using Feedback to Adapt Remote Laboratory Release Cycles', Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2010 in REV 2010: 7th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed Auer, Michael; Karlsson, Goran, Kassel University Press, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 80-86.
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Release planning, the process of allocating particular features to specific system releases, is generally considered to be complex task where multiple factors need to be evaluated. Stakeholder involvement is a particular aspect of the release process that is considered to be one of the major causes for uncertainty. Feedback from stakeholders and the use of this feedback into planning of release cycles is worthy of particular consideration. We can distinguish between stimulated feedback where feedback is explicitly elicited and naturally occurring feedback where the feedback is drawn from the stakeholders implicit behaviours. In this paper we analyse two streams of naturally occurring feedback + usage analysis and acceptance analysis + in the context of remote laboratory system adoption. A model based on acceptance analysis of stakeholder feedback is described. The model is based on identifying correlations between stakeholder business contexts and stakeholder acceptance records and is proposed as an alternative method for eliciting stakeholder needs in release planning of remote laboratories.
Lindsay, E., Murray, S.J., Lowe, D.B., Kostulski, T. & Tuttle, S.W. 2010, 'Derivation of Suitability Metrics for Remote Access Mode Experiments', International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2010 in REV 2010: 7th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed Auer, Michael; Karlsson, Goran, Kassel University Press, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 204-210.
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When considering the possible use of an online mode of experimentation it is important to evaluate the suitability of the remote access mode to a particular learning exercise. Within a large and diverse set of possible experiment-oriented learning exercises, it follows that not all laboratory experiments are well-suited for conversion to the remote access mode. In this paper we consider a range of factors that should be considered before the decision is taken to implement a remote laboratory. These factors fit broadly into four categories: learning factors, equipment factors, cohort factors and accreditation factors. Some of the factors may demonstrate a tendency to belong to more than one category, and some may present with a more significant weighting than others, but the categorical organization of the factors adds an ability to apply an objective assessment to remote access mode suitability.
Tuttle, S.W., Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J. & De La Villefromoy, M.J. 2010, 'Towards a Framework for Supporting Remote Laboratory Adoption Decisions by Teacher-Academics', Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2010 in REV 2010: 7th International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed Auer, Michael; Karlsson, Goran, Kassel University Press, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 218-224.
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Remote laboratories (RL) have existed for over a decade. They have shown great promise in the delivery of science and engineering education with the potential for providing enhanced flexibility and exposing many more students to a greater diversity of practical laboratory experimentation. This promise is clearly reflected in the number of new RL initiatives across the world and the growing research literature which examines aspects of remote laboratory based pedagogy and its accompanying technology. However for the maximum benefit to be realized Remote Laboratories must be accepted and then adopted by a significant percentage of the world+s science and engineering educators and this means making a case for change from existing hands-on-only delivery of the laboratory experience. In order to support this change we need to understand the factors that drive adoption of new technology like Remote Laboratories, and the factors that militate against adoption. This paper examines the human factors surrounding the adoption of any new technology using UTAUT (Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology) and then examines the specific case of Remote Laboratory adoption and what can be done to facilitate adoption.
Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J. & Kong, X. 2009, 'Using Synchronised Lightweight State Observers to Minimise Wireless Sensor Resource Utilisation', International Conference on Wireless Information Networks and Systems, Milan, Italy, July 2009 in WINSYS 2009: International Conference on Wireless Information Networks and Systems, ed Mohammad S. Obaidat and Rafael Caldeirinha, INSTICC - Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication, Portugal, pp. 5-12.
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A major trend in the evolution of the Web is the rapidly growing numbers of web-enabled sensors which provide a rich ability to monitor and control our physical environment. The devices are often cheap, lightweight, rapidly deployed and densely interconnected. The current dominant models of Web-based data monitoring are not well-adapted to the operational needs of these devices, particularly in terms of resource utilization. In this paper we describe an approach to the optimization of the resources utilized by these devices based on the use of synchronized state-observers. By embedding state observers with a minimized footprint into both the sensors and the monitoring Web client, we show that it is possible to minimize the utilization of limited sensor resources such as power and bandwidth, and hence to improve the performance and potential applications of these devices.
Lowe, D.B. & Murray, S.J. 2009, 'Wireless Sensor Network Optimisation Through Control-Theoretic Adaptation of Sample Rates', International Conference on Sensor Network and Applicatons, San Francisco, USA, November 2009 in Proceedings of the ISCA First International Conference on Sensor Network and Applicatons, ed G.K. Lee, ISCA: International Society for Computers and Their Applications, Cary, USA, pp. 73-78.
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There is growing interest in the use of wireless sensor data to control physical systems. Given the operational constraints (especially related to the power usage) that wireless sensors operate under, there has been considerable attention given to approaches for optimising these networks. This has considered the relationship between network behaviours and control system performance (particularly stability), as well as ways in which the network traffic can be reduced. Suprisingly however, there has been very limited consideration of dynamically reducing the underlying data generation (i.e. sampling) rates, based on what data is needed for the control system to perform adequately. In this paper we argue that this approach can potentially minimise the sensor energy usage assocated with sampling. We describe the basic approach and present the results of a preliminary case study that demonstrates the feasibility of the technique.
Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J., Weber, L., De La Villefromoy, M.J., Johnston, A.J., Lindsay, E., Nageswaran, W. & Nafalski, A. 2009, 'Labshare: Towards a National Approach to Laboratory Sharing', AAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Adelaide, Australia, December 2009 in AAEE'09: 2009 Australasian Association for Engineering Education conference website, ed Colin Kestell, Steven Grainger, John Cheung, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia, pp. 458-463.
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Conventional undergraduate engineering laboratories are valuable in terms of their contributions to students learning but are costly to develop and maintain and have extremely low utilisation rates. These issues can be addressed through cross-institutional sharing oflaboratories; however this is limited by the overarching requirement that students are located in a centrally located laboratory. In this paper we describe the nature ofthe challenges and the potential benefits that can be achieved ifa solution can be found. A possible solution is the use ofremote laboratories that can be accessed across the internet with a suitable modelfor laboratory sharing that promotes both institutional and individual engagement. We describe the characteristics that such a model should have.
Lowe, D.B., Berry, C., Murray, S.J. & Lindsay, E. 2009, 'Adapting a Remote Laboratory Architecture to Support Collaboration and Supervision', Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Bridgeport, USA, May 2009 in REV2009: Sixth International Conference on Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed NA, University of Bridgeport, USA, pp. 103-108.
Interest in, and use of, remote laboratories has been rapidly growing. These laboratories provide remote access, via the internet, to real laboratory equipment. Under appropriate circumstances they can support or even replace traditional (proximal) laboratories, provide improved access at reduced cost, and encourage inter-institutional sharing of expensive resources. Most attention to date has been on the development of the core infrastructure that manages access and interaction, and to a lesser extent consideration of pedagogic issues such as which learning outcomes are best suited to this modality. There has however been a recent recognition of the importance of also considering how collaboration and supervision can also be supported. In this paper we discuss a novel approach to the integration of support for multi-user distributed access to a single laboratory instance. The approach retains the benefits of the lightweight client inherent in the underlying architecture.
Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J., Lindsay, E., Liu, D. & Bright, C. 2008, 'Reflecting Professional Reality in Remote Laboratory Experiences', Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, Dusseldorf, Germany, June 2008 in REV 2008: Remote Engineering and Virtual Instrumentation, ed Michael E. Auer, Reinhard Langmann, International Association of Online Engineering, Vienna, Austria, pp. 1-5.
Bright, C., Lindsay, E., Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J. & Liu, D. 2008, 'Factors That Impact Learning Outcomes in Both Simulation and Remote Laboratories', Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Vienna, Austria, June 2008 in Ed-Media 2008: World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, ed Joseph Luca, Edgar R. Weippl, AACE, Chesapeake, VA USA, pp. 6251-6258.
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Murray, S.J., Lowe, D.B., Lindsay, E., Lasky, V. & Liu, D. 2008, 'Experiences with a Hybrid Architecture for Remote Laboratories', ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Saratgoa Springs, USA, October 2008 in FiE 2008: The 38th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, ed Dan Budny, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, pp. 15-19.
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There is growing interest in the use of remote laboratories to access physical laboratory infrastructure. These laboratories can support additional practical components in courses, provide improved access at reduced cost, and encourage sharing of expensive resources. Effective design of remote laboratories requires attention to both the pedagogic design and the technical support, as well as how these elements interact. We discuss our experiences with a remote laboratory implementation based on a hybrid architecture. This architecture utilises a Web front-end allowing student access to an arbitration system, which permits students to select one of a number of experiments, before being allocated to a particular experimental station. The interaction with the equipment then occurs through a separate stand-alone application which runs on its own virtualized server which the user accesses via a remote desktop client. This hybrid architecture has many benefits, as well as some limitations. For example, it allows rich control and monitoring interfaces to be developed, but also requires students to understand a slightly more complex process for establishing the control. We discuss the reactions to this architecture by different cohorts of students as well as the extent to which the architecture facilitates evolution and expansion of the laboratories.
Lindsay, E., Murray, S.J., Liu, D., Lowe, D.B. & Bright, C. 2008, 'Establishment reality vs maintenance reality: how real is real enough?', Annual Conference of European Society for Engineering Education, Aarlborg, Denmark, July 2008 in SEFI 2008: 36th Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education, ed Jaerg Steinbach, European Society for Engineering Education, Aarlborg, Denmark, pp. 1-4.
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Lindsay, E., Liu, D., Murray, S.J. & Lowe, D.B. 2007, 'Remote Laboratories in Engineering Education: Trends in Students' Perceptions', Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education, University of Melbourne, Australia, December 2007 in Proceedings of the 18th Conference of the Australasian Association of Engineering Education, ed Harald S+ndergaard and Roger Hadgraft, Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-6.
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Murray, S.J. & Lasky, V. 2007, 'Implementing Viable Remote Laboratories Using Server Virtualisation', sixth conference on IASTED International Conference Web-Based Education, Chamonix, France, March 2007 in Proceedings of the Sixth IASTED International Conference - vol 2, ed Uskov, V., ACTA, Chamonix, France, pp. 68-72.
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Remote laboratories are gaining prominence in university education, especially in respect of their ability to support distance education by allowing students to carry out experiments without being near the actual equipment and also by providing secure, equitable sharing of limited laboratory resources. For some types of laboratory experiments, remote laboratories have not in the past been viable to build due to infrastructure and maintenance costs. Large-scale remote laboratories may require a proportionally large number of servers to provide remote control, monitoring and management of the various experiments. Server Virtualisation software allows individual physical servers to host multiple virtual machines that can run multiple operating systems concurrently. In 2005, the Faculty of Engineering at UTS designed a remote Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) laboratory for Mechanical and Mechatronic engineering students based around the use of the popular Server Virtualisation software package, VMware . This paper details the various benefits of Server Virtualisation that have been realised through the implementation of the Remote PLC laboratory and benefits for remote laboratories in general.
McIntyre, D.G., Liu, D., Lasky, V. & Murray, S.J. 2006, 'A Remote Water-Level Rig Laboratory for e-Learning', International Confernce on Information Technology Base Higher Education and Training, Sydney, Australia, July 2006 in Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Information Technology base Higher Education and Training, ed N/A, IEEE, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-5.
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Lasky, V., Liu, D., Murray, S.J. & Choy, K.K. 2005, 'A Remote PLC System for e-Learning', ASEE Global Colloquium of Engineering Education, Sydney, Australia, September 2005 in Proc of the 4th ASEE/AAEE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education, ed Radcliffe; D. and Humphries, J., AAEE, Australia, pp. 1-10.

Journal Articles

Lindsay, E., Murray, S.J. & Stumpers, B.D. 2012, 'A Toolkit for Remote Laboratory Design', International Journal of Online Engineering, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 14-19.
Remote laboratories are an increasingly prevalent instructional tool for undergraduate engineering laboratory classes. This increased prevalence brings with it a need to change the model of how remote laboratories are developed. The earlier remote laboratories were developed by individual academics combining their discipline-specific skills with their own ability to implement remote operation. This +cottage industry
Yeung, H., Lowe, D.B. & Murray, S.J. 2010, 'Interoperability of Remote Laboratories Systems', International Journal of Online Engineering, vol. 6, no. SI1, pp. 71-80.
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There has been growing interest in, and development of, remotely accessible laboratories as a mechanism for improving access and flexibility, and enabling sharing of facilities. Differences in focus, philosophy, approach or domain have led to quite different technical solutions in supporting remote laboratories. Whilst this diversity represents a significant strength in terms of the ability to explore different issues and support diverse applications, it does however potentially hamper the sharing of labs between different institutions. Investigation into interoperability between two remote lab platforms has realized a need for a common application protocol to achieve the goals remote labs aims to provide. We describe our approach to providing a bridge between two current remote laboratory architectures + Labshare+s Sahara and MIT+s iLabs + and report on the issues that arise with regard to the protocol translations.
Lowe, D.B., Berry, C., Murray, S.J. & Lindsay, E. 2009, 'Adapting a Remote Laboratory Architecture to Support Collaboration and Supervision', International Journal of Online Engineering, vol. 5, no. Special Issue REV2009, pp. 51-56.
Interest in, and use of, remote laboratories has been rapidly growing. These laboratories provide remote access, via the internet, to real laboratory equipment. Under appropriate circumstances they can support or even replace traditional (proximal) laboratories, provide improved access at reduced cost, and encourage inter-institutional sharing of expensive resources. Most attention to date has been on the development of the core infrastructure that manages access and interaction, and to a lesser extent consideration of pedagogic issues such as which learning outcomes are best suited to this modality. There has however been a recent recognition of the importance of also considering how collaboration and supervision can also be supported. In this paper we discuss a novel approach to the integration of support for multi-user distributed access to a single laboratory instance. The approach retains the benefits of the lightweight client inherent in the underlying architecture.
Lindsay, E., Murray, S.J., Liu, D., Lowe, D.B. & Bright, C. 2009, 'Establishment reality vs. maintenance reality: how real is real enough?', European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 229-234.
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Remote and virtual laboratories are increasingly prevalent alternatives to the face-to-face laboratory experience; however, the question of their learning outcomes is yet to be fully investigated. There are many presumptions regarding the effectiveness of these approaches; foremost amongst these assumptions is that the experience must be 'real' to be effective. Embedding reality into a remote or virtual laboratory can be an expensive and time-consuming task. Significant efforts have been expended to create 3D VRML models of laboratory equipment, allowing students to pan, zoom and tilt their perspective as they see fit. Multiple camera angles have been embedded into remote interfaces to provide an increased sense of 'realness'. This paper draws upon the literature in the field to show that the necessary threshold for reality varies depending upon how the students are interacting with the equipment. There is one threshold for when they first interact - the establishment reality - which allows the students to familiarise themselves with the laboratory equipment, and to build their mental model of the experience. There is, however, a second, lower, threshold - the maintenance reality - that is necessary for the students' ongoing operation of the equipment. Students' usage patterns rely upon a limited subset of the available functionality, focusing upon only some aspects of the reality that has been originally established. The two threshold model presented in this paper provides a new insight for the development of virtual laboratories in the future.
Lowe, D.B., Murray, S.J., Lindsay, E. & Liu, D. 2009, 'Evolving Remote Laboratory Architectures to Leverage Emerging Internet Technologies', IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 289-294.
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There is growing research into, and development of, the use of the internet to support remote access by students to physical laboratory infrastructure. These remote laboratories can, under appropriate circumstances, support or even replace traditional (proximal) laboratories, provide additional or improved access at reduced cost, and encourage inter-institutional sharing of expensive resources. Effective design of remote laboratories requires attention to the design of both the pedagogy and the technical infrastructure, as well as how these elements interact. In this paper we consider the architectures of remote laboratories, the shortcomings of existing implementations, and we argue that emerging internet technologies can assist in overcoming these shortcomings. We also consider the opportunities which these technologies provide in moving beyond both existing remote laboratories and existing proximal laboratories, to create opportunities which were not previously possible.
Moulton, B.D., Lasky, V. & Murray, S.J. 2004, 'The Development of a Remote Laboratory: Educational Issues', World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 19-22.
Moulton, B.D., Murray, S.J. & Lasky, V. 2003, 'The development of an environment for remote embedded systems; feedback from students and subsequent enhancements', World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 65-68.