Throughout summer and fall 2020, the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering has worked hard to enable its core undergraduate labs to go remote. Necessary changes included creating new lab curricula, modalities of teaching and remote instrumentation.
When it came to curriculum changes, all decisions made by the faculty needed to pass two important tests: Would it enable remote learning and would it enhance our courses once we returned to fully in-person? The Analog Discovery 2 from Digilent fulfilled this mission. With these devices, students have access to an oscilloscope, logic analyzer, waveform generator, spectrum analyzer, network analyzer and bus protocol analyzer.
The department has deployed more than 300 Analog Discovery 2s for first-year through graduate students in support of remote labs. Now and in future semesters, students can perform their course work when it is convenient for them and not when it is convenient to the lab.
Faculty members have also taken best practices learned from our online master’s in electrical engineering to package course content into short and very specific videos. These videos enable students to access content 24/7 and provide the ability to create video FAQ responses that can act as asynchronous office hours. Our students are seeing enhanced learning because content can be consumed when the student is ready and available to learn.
The concepts developed within the department were shared with a college-wide COVID-19 lab committee over the summer. This committee provided an opportunity for each department to share best practices in remote lab instruction. ECEE integrated many ideas that were discussed in this committee, and other departments deployed our ideas. Rady Mechanical Engineering, Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Engineering Plus and the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program are now using the Analog Discovery 2s.
Today, more than 800 units are being used by students throughout the college to enhance their labs during this time of forced remote instruction – but these devices will also become a permanent part of our teaching labs.
Keith Graham is a senior instructor and associate chair for education in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.