Application Notes

Moku hardware and remote labs

Teaching remote and in-person labs with Moku hardware and MATLAB LiveScripts

Moku:Go combines 8 lab instruments in one high-performance device with Windows and macOS apps. This application note discusses the real-world deployment of Moku hardware in an undergraduate teaching laboratory and the resulting benefits to students.

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Moku:Go

Moku:Go combines 8 lab instruments in one high-performance device complete with integrated power supplies on M1 and M2 models.

Remote practical lab teaching with Moku Live Scripts and MATLAB

Shutdowns became the norm in 2020 and universities around the world had to rapidly shift to online teaching. While lectures and tutorials can be readily delivered, effectively teaching practical labs remotely is an ongoing challenge. The Australian National University (ANU) collaborated with Liquid Instruments to address this challenge using Moku:Lab hardware and MATLAB Live Scripts.

Though this example uses Moku:Lab hardware, this solution is available on Moku:Go hardware.

Remote education challenges

ANU experienced a series of shutdowns in the first semester of 2020 even before the pandemic because of the devastating Australian bushfires and hailstorm. The COVID-19 shutdown that followed only strengthened the need for a long-term remote education solution and flexible lab instruction. Strict travel restrictions and lockdown measures severely impacted all students at ANU, with many of them stuck interstate or overseas.

Moku:Lab is already used in engineering courses at ANU from first to senior year courses. We reached out to the Introduction to Electronics course convenor, Associate Professor Salman Durrani, to see if our Moku Live Script Labs could assist in delivering practical labs during this unprecedented time. He agreed to trial the labs with his class, where out of 135 students, 20 students were confined interstate, 10 in China.

Moku Live Script labs in a nutshell

Every Moku Live Script Lab combines MATLAB’s Live Script functionality with Moku’s flexible application programming interface (API) to form an interactive lab platform for students. Students can find detailed lab instructions, control Moku hardware, take measurements, and even answer lab questions in the one graphical script. The practical lab work can therefore be completed in the lab or remotely.

Figure 1: Live Scripts with tutorial text (left) and live Moku instruments (right)

Each student lab is also coupled with a tutor script, which can automatically grade all student reports and generate pedagogical grading reports. This can reduce hours of grading to seconds and help instructors to evaluate areas in which students may have struggled. The labs also have anti-plagiarism feature built in to protect the integrity of each student’s work.

Preparation for Moku Live Script labs

Standard ANU lab manuals were first imported into Live Script format as text and graphs. Moku’s MATLAB API controls are then embedded into the same script to allow Moku:Lab connections and measurements with the hardware.

In this case, because the lab hardware is located on campus, all circuits were pre-built by lab technicians and connected to ANU’s fleet of Moku:Labs. By connecting to different Moku:Labs remotely, students could explore the different circuits in the lab. Take-home hardware would add an additional layer of student interaction and overall flexibility. We will discuss this below with Moku:Go.

Network connection was another crucial piece of the puzzle. Remote network access to ANU engineering lab was made possible by ANU’s Virtual Commons Desktop, a VPN which allows students to connect to all the Mokus located in the lab.

Remote lab experience for ANU students

Moku:Labs were left running night and day for two weeks, so students could sign up for a 2 hour lab slot at any time. As this was the first time Moku Live Script Labs were used by students, Assoc. Prof. Durrani decided to allow students to have multiple attempts to complete the lab to minimize stress. Despite some challenges due to the network issues with ANU’s Virtual Commons Desktop, students were able to conduct engaging remote labs. This solution ensured that students could still have practical lab experience while learning remotely. Without Moku Live Script Labs, the alternative option was for students to watch pre-recorded lab videos.

“The innovative combination of Moku:Labs and MATLAB Live Scripts let our students do their practical labs live, from home (including 10 still in China because of COVID).” – Assoc. Prof. Salman Durrani

“I was able to complete both of the Moku labs (rather than watching the video). It ran really smoothly for me and was really enjoyable.” – ANU student

Advantages of Moku Live Script labs

The remote Moku Live Script Labs provided a new solution for conducting practical labs in these strange times. Students were able to complete lab work from anywhere around the world, and the automatic marking feature saved a great deal of time for instructors who were also under elevated pressure.

Moku Live Script labs with Moku:Go

Our brand new education product, Moku:Go, inherits the same level of seamless API integration that enabled MATLAB Live Script Labs with Moku:Lab. This means all the benefits of Moku Live Script Labs are also available with Moku:Go.

The compactness of Moku:Go also means it can be used anywhere: remotely or in person, in the lab or at home. In a lab environment, students access all the resources from the same script and get real-time feedback. Students can even take Moku:Go home and complete the work using a simple breadboard and a few components.

The combination of Moku:Go with Moku Live Script Lab is a timely new way to delivery practical labs in this new era.

Acknowledgment

We would like to thank Associate Professor Salman Durrani for being the first to trial our Moku Live Script Labs. We would also like to thank Erasmo Scipione and Xianjun Zhen for setting up the hardware for all the labs, and Robert Edwards for setting up the network connection necessary for students to access Moku hardware.

Benefits of Moku:Go

For the educator & lab assistants

  • Efficient use of lab space and time
  • Ease of consistent instrument configuration
  • Focus on the electronics, not the instrument setup
  • Maximize lab teaching assistant time
  • Individual labs, individual learning
  • Simplified evaluation and grading via screenshots

For the student

  • Individual labs at their own pace enhance the understanding and retention
  • Portable, choose pace, place and time for lab work be it home, on campus lab or even collaborate remotely
  • Familiar Windows or macOS laptop environment, yet with professional-grade instruments

Moku:Go demo mode

You can download the Moku:Go app for macOS and Windows. The demo mode operates without any hardware and provides a great overview of using Moku:Go.


Questions or comments?

Please contact us at [email protected]