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Simulated Hands-On Laboratory Instruction for Fluid Power Systems

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2021 ASABE Annual International Virtual Meeting  2100684.(doi:10.13031/aim.202100684)
Authors:   Saxon J Ryan, Brian L Steward, Safal Kshetri
Keywords:   Hands-on learning, Distance education laboratory assignments, Fluid power education, Laboratory assignment videos, Online labs, Simulated laboratory assignments

Abstract. Compared to traditional lectures many people in technical fields learn and retain information more effectively while exploring new content hands-on, working with physical components connecting them together, observing their operation, and taking physical measurements. Hands-on learning is especially important when students have limited experience working with the types of systems and equipment about which they are learning. Fluid power system technology is a topic with many components and intricacies with which students have limited experience. This subject has commonly been taught with a hands-on laboratory component to assist the students in meeting the learning outcomes of the course. However, when courses transitioned to an online format, the hands-on component of the learning experience was removed creating a gap in the students‘ learning. Though it may not be possible to completely remedy this gap, there are methods to provide a simulated hands-on experience for the students. During the transition to online instruction under COVID-19 conditions in Spring 2020, the authors explored multiple online delivery methods for fluid power systems education aimed to fill the gap left from the removal of hands-on learning. To simulate hands on learning, first person videos of the laboratory experience, fluid power simulations, and supplemental explanation videos were created and delivered to the online students. The combination of these efforts resulted in students expressing that the online labs were one of the most helpful components to them learning about fluid power under the circumstances of transitioning to online instruction. Further, students‘ self-evaluations of their ability to achieve the learning outcomes of the course indicated that the learning gap was minimized. Though students found the simulated hands-on laboratory videos useful, the students indicated a preference for in-person laboratory assignments.

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