The Técnico Lisboa (IST – Instituto Superior Técnico) is the largest and most reputed Portuguese institute of Engineering, Science, Technology and Architecture at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. They provide their students with the online laboratory “e-lab”, a platform enabling e-learning of science 24/7. Using the tools available at e-lab, the students are able to perform real experiments and control them remotely, to receive and share data, as well as to perform subsequent data analysis. Furthermore, they can watch the live video stream from the apparatus.
Most of the physical setups are hosted at Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon. An experiment is controlled by the administrator, who is the top user in the queue of all users. On special occasions, the experiment administrator is granted with special rights when controlling an experiment, like an authorized teacher who has booked the lab in advance.
Currently, there are three laboratories with several experiments. Each control room is specific to each experiment and has its own page where the user can find protocol, suggestions for variations on the experience, as well as explanations and reviews of the data.
E-lab is currently a java application, which the user has to download from the e-lab webpage in order to enter a particular control room. E-lab’s team in collaboration with Go-Lab is working on developing a new browser interface with new features to make the e-lab experience even more challenging and simple.
Using the online labs and tools should motivate students to learn science by showing them real situations that prove the theory. Within the interface of each online lab, there is a chat room available so that the interaction and support among the different users is guaranteed if any problem of using the online lab occurs. Everyone can share and comment information about the experiments and the results.