During last years the worldwide interest on distance learning has grown steadily also pushing an important R&D effort on teaching techniques. Moreover, the introduction of digital media affected positively the general way of teaching and learning contributing to create new solutions to reproduce remotely what normally happened into real classrooms.
The health, humanitarian, social and economic crises set off by the COVID-19 pandemic have been unprecedented, with wide-ranging impacts on societies around the world. In particular, educational systems came to a sudden stop. Currently over 220 million post-secondary students—13% of the total number of students affected globally—have their studies ended or significantly disrupted due to COVID-19 (“The COVID-19 Crisis Response: supporting tertiary education for continuity, adaptation, and innovation”, World Back Education 2020). Due to this situation, many traditional universities have suddenly and rapidly moved their lessons online leaving aside complementary activities that are traditionally performed in presence, like e.g. laboratories. (“The impact of covid-19 on higher education around the world” IAU Global Global Survey Survey Report, G. Marinoni, H. van’t Land, T. Jensen, Published by the International Association of Universities, May 2020).
Practical experiments, are obviously essential for all science and engineering subjects since they allow students to acquire additional competencies like: working in group, setup an experiment, use real equipment, elaborate acquired data, etc. Currently, these activities are only reproduced in the online systems using virtual laboratories and simulations able to mimic laboratory environment. For how realistic and precise these simulations are, we are always using “simulators” that cannot include every real situation.
Following these assumptions, the solution is to combine the advantages of online systems with real traditional laboratories giving to students the possibility to carry out real experimentations by accessing remotely on line the physical laboratory and performing the practical experience working individually and in group receiving feedbacks through the remote infrastructure.
This transformation is challenging since it implies the creation of a remote infrastructure able to permit equipment connection, guarantee students’ access, ensure to set parameters and to record students activities. Moreover, this infrastructure must be realized to allow students to have a collaborative learning experience reproducing a laboratory environment that ensures a equipment correct and safe use of the equipment.
Hence, the project main objective is to promote the digital transformation of Higher Education to cope with the needs and challenges created by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe by encouraging an easy and constant access to the laboratories to practice experimentations on renewable energies at EU universities. The choice of the topic has been done based on the importance they have in this current crisis. Renewable energy solutions provide clean, reliable, easy to mobilise and cost-effective energy for essential services, including healthcare, water and food supply. This makes them crucial in the immediate response to COVID-19. Furthermore, renewable energy must play a key role in economic recovery, ensuring sustainability and energy security, creating jobs and strengthening resilience to protect people’s health and welfare.
In detail, the project aims to set up, test and validate the solution to perform laboratory activities remotely creating an overlap between online and traditional learning. During projects, practical experiences will be built to integrate theoretical lessons on renewable energy subjects at European universities in order to:
- provide a more flexible accessibility to training opportunities thanks to ICT-based approaches, innovative tools and systems, i.e. Remote Laboratories, e-tivities etc. in order to allow students to acquire technical and transversal skills via hands-on experimentations to be performed in distance modality;
- improve and modernise the delivery of on line and traditional courses creating more synergetic educational paths that combine innovative pedagogical approaches with the use of ICT tools and automatic control techniques for the remote access to educational activities;
- ensure quality of the teaching and learning process through ICT-supported self-assessment activities based on a data mining system that allows a two way evaluation (from students’ and teachers’ perspectives) of the training path;
- foster co-creation of knowledge and experience through the provision of inclusive, cross-sectoral and participatory educational approaches and innovative ICT-based solutions.
Kompetenzfeldleiter Resilient Energy Systems
Forschungsschwerpunktverantwortlicher Renewable Energy Systems