A Robotic Telescope For University-Level Distance Teaching

Kolb, Ulrich and Brodeur, Marcus S. and Braithwaite, Nicolas and Minocha, Shailey (2018) A Robotic Telescope For University-Level Distance Teaching. In: Robotic Telescopes, Student Research and Education (RTSRE) Conference, June 18-21, 2017, San Diego, California, USA.

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Official URL: https://rtsre.net/ojs/index.php/rtsreconfproc


We present aspects of the deployment of a remotely operable telescope for teaching practical science to distance learning undergraduate students. We briefly describe the technical realization of the facility, PIRATE, in Mallorca and elaborate on how it is embedded in the Open University curriculum. The PIRATE teaching activities were studied as part of a wider research project into the importance of realism, sociability and meta-functionality for the effectiveness of virtual and remote laboratories in teaching practical science. We find that students accept virtual experiments (e.g. a telescope simulator) when they deliver genuine, ”messy” data, clarify how they differ from a realistic portrayal, and are flagged as training tools. A robotic telescope is accepted in place of on-site practical work when realistic activities are included, the internet connection is stable, and when there is at least one live video feed. The robotic telescope activity should include group work and facilitate social modes of learning. Virtual experiments, though normally considered as asynchronous tools, should also include social interaction. To improve student engagement and learning outcomes a greater situational awareness for the robotic telescope setting should be devised. We conclude this report with a short account of the current status of PIRATE after its relocation from Mallorca to Tenerife, and its integration into the OpenScience Observatories.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
RTSRE Related Research
Depositing User: Mr Saeed Salimpour
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2018 11:05
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2018 23:51
URI: http://istardb.org/id/eprint/2007

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