An "EiA" approach to support laboratory learning environments


When developing or expanding hands-on laboratory environments that rely on technology, one faces various challenges. Such inconvenience varies from expensive technological renovations to the reliance of devices on human intervention, to the non-standardized communication between networked objects that use different native programming languages. To overcome these specific problems, an "Everything is Alive" (EiA) approach is proposed. To explore the potentials and investigate the effectiveness and usefulness of this strategy in hands-on laboratory environments, the idea is implemented and tested on a laboratory system that uses RFID equipment, servers and databases, and moving mechanisms. The set of the different involved agents include RFID readers of different brands, motorized RFID tags and antennas, remote databases that store the RFID reads, and friendly Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). After constructing the structure and its framework, students and interested individuals are able to change RFID experiments' setups, control different types of RFID readers, gather the read data, perform computational processes; all is carried out remotely and through one easy-to-use interface. Thusly, educational tools can be built on top of this agent infrastructure and teaching modules can be embedded to the GUI, yielding a creative way to convey the technical knowledge. Furthermore, since they are independent and easy to integrate, agents can be separately developed by advanced-level students in academic milieus, a fact that leads to considerable practical experience. Partial support for this work was provided by the NSF CCLI program. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Journal Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings