With the goal to enhance and enrich distance learning of science and engineering, IFI is developing an innovative cyberinfrastructure,
branded as Telelab, using a combination of technologies such as cyber-physical systems, digital twins, virtual reality, augmented reality,
robotics, mobile computing, and teleconferencing. Telelab approximates real-world laboratory experiences in an online environment
with mechanisms including, but not limited to, telepresence, scientific visualization, data synchronization, remote control, mixed reality, and social interactions.
While it is designed to be an addition to distance education that can be used anytime, Telelab is especially useful amid the COVID-19 pandemic
that may otherwise force teachers to cut lab activities short or give them up entirely.
A screenshot of a live experiment delivered by Telelab
Like video conferencing software, Telelab allows many students to freely access and participate in ongoing and past experiments from a Web browser
and allows any educators to create, operate, and manage their own remote labs.
We envision it as an implementation of remote labs 2.0, a distributed model
in contrast to the first generation of remote labs that are somewhat centralized.
A distributed framework for remote labs
Based on the Telelab platform, IFI is developing and testing optimal strategies and pedagogies for
engaging students with socioeconomic diversity and broadening their participation in science exploration.
We envision that, over time, Telelab will become a science hub for millions of students to share, access, and learn
from a large number of science experiments anytime, anywhere. Such open online labs promise to democratize
science learning and mitigate educational inequity, especially for underserved schools that lack resources to conduct
a wide variety of authentic science experiments.
Infrared Explorer for Android
IFI Tests Remote Inquiry on Telelab
Three Ways of Using Telelab
Absorption of solar radiation
Baking soda and vinegar
Why do metals feel colder than wood?
Engaging Students in Distance Learning of Science with Remote Labs 2.0
Remote Labs 2.0 to the Rescue: Doing Science in a Pandemic
“Students cannot touch the real objects, but they can add thermometers onto the
real objects. This is really cool! They can do hands-on investigations even without
touching the objects. It would be even better if they can have more interactions with
“In real labs, I ask students to do free exploration before giving specific instructions
on where to observe and what to analyze. Then we share, as a whole class, what we
find. With Telelab, I can do the same thing. They can add thermometers anywhere
and share what they find. Some focus on purple colors (representing cold) and some
focus on red colors (representing hot). From their choices of places, they start to
ask questions of why it happens as it shows.”
“With this technology, science learning will involve diverse voices from students,
about their houses, gardens, and rivers in their community, to name a few.
It’s more than extended access through online platforms.”
“I thought it was really cool that although we are all so far apart in distance, we were
all able to participate in the live experiment together in real time. I liked the thermal
cameras since we were not able to be there in person it gave us a nice visual representation
of what was happening during the experiments.”
“[I like] being able to watch in real time as a reaction is taking place [and] getting to chat
and talk with the teacher and discuss real-time results like you would in an actual classroom.”