The Electronic Laboratory Journal: A Collaborative and Cooperative Learning Environment for Web-Based Experimentation
Numerous tools have been developed for supporting the collaboration between students in education, tools that mainly include facilities for sharing documents and enabling discussions. However, these environments do not emphasize the use of facilities that sustain collaborative work in the framework of remote experimentation carried out by a group of students located at different places. The Electronic Laboratory Journal (eJournal) paradigm proposed in this paper is a collaborative and cooperative environment for Web-based experimentation in engineering education. The eJournal enhances the traditional laboratory journal, by providing a group of students with Web-based tools to collect, annotate, organize and share the data chunks necessary to complete their experimentation assignments. The data chunks, called fragments, may be composed of numerous objects of any format, such as text, images, graphics, manuscripts, measurement logs or experimental results. Fragments can be uploaded from local disks or imported from Web components. The eJournal also handles the submission of results to the educators and facilitates remote supervision, assistance and tutoring of the students. The eJournal paradigm is currently assessed at the School of Engineering, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in the framework of hands-on experimentation activities focusing on remote manipulation of real setups and Web-based simulation. This paper presents the eJournal environment, its application and its evaluation as an enabling Web-based application for flexible learning.