Book Chapter

Enabling the Automatic Generation of User Interfaces for Remote Laboratories

Remote laboratories are an important component of blended and dis- tance science and engineering education. By definition, they provide access to a physical lab in a distant location. Many architectures enabling remote laboratory systems exist, the most common of which are Client-Server based. In this con- text, the Server interfaces the physical setup and makes it software-accessible. The Smart Device Specifications revisit a Client-Server architecture, with the main aim of cancelling the dependencies which inherently exist between a Client and a Server. This is done by describing the Server as a set of services, which are exposed as well-defined APIs. If a remote laboratory is built following the Smart Device Specifications, any person with programming skills can create a personalized client application to access the lab. But in practice, teachers rely on the mediated contact with a lab provider to have information about what kind of experiment(s) the lab in question implements. Even though there is a complete description of the available sensors and actuators making up a lab and how to be accessed, it is not clear how they are connected (relationships). In this sense, a list of sensors and actuators are not enough to make a guided selection of compo- nents to create the interface to an experiment. Therefore, the aim of this work is to support teachers in choosing the experiments and creating the respective UI on their own, in a pedagogically oriented scenario and by taking into consideration the target online learning environment. This is done by revisiting the Smart Device Specifications and extending them, in addition to proposing a tool that will automatically generate the user interface of the chosen experiment(s).

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