In remote-control experiments, the equipment
is operated live in the laboratory, but the student controlling it via an ordinary web
browser is sitting at his or her PC or laptop in a hall room or anywhere in the world.
Control settings and instrumental readings are transmitted digitally, and the student
has an overall view of the experiment via a webcam. Only one student at a time can have
control of the experiment, but others can watch what happens while they wait their
turn to control things.
interactive screen experiments : ISEs
An interactive screen experiment is a
collection of hundreds of real photographs recording every state of the
equipment and incorporated into a stop-animation interactive
Shockwave application that can be played in an ordinary web browser. Shockwave is highly
suited for interactive control (it is used for the production of computer video games) and
when the student runs an ISE the effect is
similar to a running a remote-control experiment.
The difference for the laboratory provider is that there is no limit to the number of students
who may simultaneously run the experiment and the real equipment itself is used only once.
Go to ISE web pages
Some experiments can be conveniently simulated on a PC.
This might be preferable to the laboratory experiment in cases where the real thing involves
difficulties that are not fundamental to the physics being taught. Or the simulated experiment
might be a valuable preliminary to working on the laboratory version. Simulations can be quite
sophisticated, including systematic and random errors, and so on, and the analysis of the data from the simulated experiment is typically
identical in the real experiment. But one thing is lost in simulations --
the student can never discover any more physics than the programmer put into the simulation.
videos of experiments
Videos of laboratory experiments can form very effective teaching
aids to the student both in helping to understand the underlying physics of experiments that involve
equipment that is unsuitable for a hands-on laboratory and as an introduction or familiarization
prior to tackling the real experiment in the laboratory. The main drawback of an ordinary video is that
the student cannot interact with it except in very limited ways. As with other approaches used in the
virtual laboratory, its use must be appropriate.