TU Ilmenau develops take-home labs for virtual technology training

The TU Ilmenau is launching the project "Hybrid Take-Home Labs for MINT Education of the Future". Scientists are developing portable online "labs" that enable students of MINT subjects, i.e. mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology,to conduct their own complex laboratory experiments "hands-on" from home using their own control units via the Internet. The Thuringian Ministry of Science is providing 50,000 euros in funding for the project, which it initiated together with the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany as part of the "Fellowship Program for Innovations in Digital University Teaching".


Digitally supported teaching has found its way into universities in recent years - and not just since the corona pandemic. So-called online remote labs are just as powerful as on-site technical facilities, but they are also more flexible, as students can access them from virtually anywhere. Since the learning content is permanently available remotely in the form of digital, interactive simulations and video recordings, students can decide for themselves when to access it according to their individual work rhythm and level of knowledge. Online labs enable remote-controlled experiments via web-based access to real controls and physical systems. This ensures the connection of theoretically taught basics and their application and consolidation in practical courses. However, practical experimentation and the associated "haptic learning" is lost for the students. This practical side of learning processes is made possible by the hybrid take-home labs that TU Ilmenau will now develop.

Implementation of complex experiments possible

TU Ilmenau/ari
TU Ilmenau develops take-home labs for virtual technology training

TU Ilmenau has been using digital laboratory solutions in the online and hybrid education of its MINT students for a long time. For example, the interactive hybrid online lab GOLDi ("Grid of Online Lab Devices Ilmenau") has been used for courses, practical work and online demonstrations for over ten years. Students also keep up with the times and have specialized software and hardware at home with which they can independently control interactive objects or interact with software applications. And even professional demo boards and digital logic experiment kits, now that they are affordable, are part of everyday life for many computer-loving young men and women. Thus, although they have their own control units, they lack direct access to the complex experimental environment of a professional laboratory. The hybrid take-home labs that the TU Ilmenau is now developing will enable students to carry out complex experiments in an online lab using their hardware, which is flexibly used as their own control unit. For this purpose, they will be provided with an interface unit that connects them to the GOLDi online lab via the Internet and simultaneously serves as an interface with all the inputs and outputs of a real technical system, such as an elevator or a high-bay warehouse located kilometers away in the university's Remotelab.

Inter-university, interdisciplinary network

Since August, TU Ilmenau has been involved in another research project to modernise digitally supported teaching: In the CrossLab project ("Flexibly combinable cross-reality labs in university teaching: future-proof competence development for learning and working 4.0"), the four universities involved are combining the individual concepts for digitising their laboratory training that they have developed at the various locations into a cross-university, interdisciplinary network. In this way, the individual CrossLabs, which enable simulations, the creation of virtual laboratory environments and remote labs, are combined in a single learning environment.

The Vice President for Teachingand Learning of TU Ilmenau, Professor Anja Geigenmüller, expects the research projects to provide a boost not only in digital laboratory technology developments, but also in innovative didactic concepts: "The joint further development of innovative formats across disciplines and even locations will help to continue to make STEM degree courses attractive and also to incorporate the ubiquitous digitalisation into teaching content and teaching methods."



Prof. Anja Geigenmüller

Vice President for Teachingand Learning
+49 3677 69-5010