Remote laboratories in teaching and learning – issues impinging on widespread adoption in science and engineering education


  • Martyn Cooper Open University



Remote laboratories, Pedagogic Issues, Usability, Accessibility


This paper discusses the major issues that impinge on the widespread adoption of remote controlled laboratories in science and engineering education. This discussion largely emerges from the work of the PEARL1 project and is illustrated with examples and evaluation data from the project. Firstly the rationale for wanting to offer students remote experiments is outlined. The paper deliberately avoids discussion of technical implementation issues of remote experiments but instead focuses on issues that impinge on the specification and design of such facilities. This includes pedagogic, usability and accessibility issues. It compares remote experiments to software simulations. It also considers remote experiments in the wider context for educational institutions and outlines issues that will affect their decisions as to whether to adopt this approach. In conclusion it argues that there are significant challenges to be met if remote laboratories are to achieve a widespread presence in education but expresses the hope that this delineation of the issues is a contribution towards meeting these challenges.

Author Biography

Martyn Cooper, Open University

Resume: Martyn Cooper Martyn Cooper is by background a systems engineer having a B.Sc. in Cybernetics and Control Engineering with broad engineering experience in Broadcasting, Computing and the Oil Industries. In 1991 he established an independent consultancy on Technology for Disabled People. This principally offered technical support to care, health and education professionals and specific equipment recommendations for individuals with disabilities. Martyn Cooper took up the post of Research Lecturer at the Open University in February 1998 having since 1993 been the Director of Research: Technology and Disability in the Department of Cybernetics at the University of Reading. Broadly his interests are in the applications on new and emerging technologies to enable and empower disabled people. This covers a wide range of technologies, disabilities, ages and application areas. Since joining the OU the emphasis of his work has been on access to education. In January 2002 he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow to head the Accessibility in Educational Media (AEM) group which he had established in July 2001. The AEM group, which is part of the Institute of Educational Technology, works on externally and internally funded research projects as well as having a consultancy role across the OU in supporting other units in making their online course components and student services accessible to disabled people. He has been a leader in a number of European projects within the 4th and 5th Framework programmes and has been regularly used by the European Commission as an independent expert in the area of technology for disabled people. He was the director of the PEARL project that developed an approach to creating remote controlled teaching experiments over the WWW. The project sought to enhance the participation of disabled students in the practical work of science and engineering courses at university level. (See A full CV for Martyn Cooper can be found at:




How to Cite

Cooper, M. (2005). Remote laboratories in teaching and learning – issues impinging on widespread adoption in science and engineering education. International Journal of Online and Biomedical Engineering (iJOE), 1(1).