Exploring students collaboration in remote laboratory infrastructures


Educational remote laboratories are a software and hardware tool that allows students to remotely access real equipment located in the university as if they were in a hands-on-lab session. Since the equipment used by students is real, it has associated costs: laboratory development, hardware used and maintenance costs. Given the remote nature of the remote laboratories, institutions can share these costs by sharing the access to the laboratories. In order to reduce the associated development and maintenance costs, as well as to reduce the overall costs by managing the sharing of laboratories in different institutions, software infrastructures and toolkits have arisen, such as the MIT iLab project, the Labshare Sahara project, or WebLab-Deusto. However, a particular feature seamlessly present on hands-on-lab sessions but not often present in remote laboratories sessions is direct collaboration among students. While collaboration at a particular laboratory level is generally supported -or can easily be implemented-, some features of remote laboratory management systems such as load balancing or federation might enter in conflict with collaboration. This paper is focused on discussing levels of adoption of collaboration in these remote laboratory management systems.