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Abstract

Information technology has had a great impact on education and research by enabling additional teaching and researching strategies. According to the 2014 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, the number of students who have taken at least one online course increased to a new total of 7.1 million during the Fall 2013 semester. Remote laboratory technology has made a great progress in the arena of online learning. Internet remote controlled experiments were previously implemented based on the unified framework at UH and TSU. However, end users of the framework were required to install the LabVIEW plug-in in the web browsers to support online usage of remote experiments and the framework only supported the desktop and laptop. In order to resolve the plug-in issues, a novel unified framework is proposed. This unified framework is based on the Web 2.0 and HTML 5 technology. As shown in Fig. 1, there are three layer applications in the unified framework: the client application layer, the server application layer and the experiment control layer. The client web application is based on HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JQuery/JQuery-Mobile JavaScript libraries. The Mashup technology is used for user interface implementation. The client web application can be run in most of current popular browsers such as IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari etc. The server application is based on Web Service technology and directly built on top of MySQL database, Apache web server engine and Node.js web server engine. The server application utilizes JSON and Socket.IO, which is developed based on web socket protocol to implement the real-time communication between the server application and the client-web application (Rai, R.,). The server application runs on LANMP (Linux/Aparche/Node.js/MySQL/PHP) server. The experiment control application is based on the LabVIEW, and uses Socket.IO for real time communication with server application. The remote laboratory based on the novel unified framework is able to run on many different devices, such as desktop and laptop PCs, iPad, Android Pad, smart phone, etc., without software plug-ins. However, there are still some challenges remaining for remote laboratory development as follows: 1) How to access remote experiments installed at different laboratories through a single webpage? 2) How to manage the remote experiments at the different laboratory? 3) How to resolve the challenges of system safety issues? In order to resolve these challenges, a new scalable global remote laboratory was implemented at Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) based on the improved novel unified framework. To integrate three different remote laboratories at TAMUQ, UH and TSU, the new global scalable remote laboratory architecture was designed and developed at TAMUQ. The labs operate with a unified scheduler, a federated authentication module and user management system. Meanwhile, a scalable server was also setup at TAMUQ to support expansion of the remote laboratory. Figure 2 shows the global scalable remote laboratory architecture. In this scalable remote laboratory, the laboratory center server at TAMUQ will consist of a scalable server connected the other two lab center server in UH and TSU. All of three laboratory center servers are based on Linux/Node.js/Apache/MySQL/PHP (LNAMP) architecture. Socket.io, which is a new real-time communication technology, was used to manage the experimental data and other user information (such as User profile, Login information, etc.) transmission in this global platform. The center server at TAMUQ was designated as the center proxy server for the scalable remote laboratory. With this global platform, terminal users can use all of remote experiments of these three universities via one website. With the new global scalable remote laboratory based on the novel unified framework, the scalable scheduler and federated authentication solution was designed and implemented. At the same time, issues with security control and management of experiment access were solved through taking the full advantage of the functionalities offered by the MD5 encryption and decryption algorithm based security management engine. As shown in Fig. 3, the new user interface was also developed and integrated into the new scalable remote laboratory. With the new global scalable remote laboratory, future teaching and learning activities at TAMUQ, UH and TSU will be improved. Meanwhile, the improved unified framework will significantly benefit remote laboratory development in future as well.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2016.ICTPP2259
2016-03-21
2019-10-15
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http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2016.ICTPP2259
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