“Computerisation” of Educational Equipment

Following what was mentioned briefly in the previous article, we would like to look at the advantages and disadvantages of using PC-data acquisition (and sometimes control) in educational equipment. We should look at this issue from two angles; one is the cost involved and the other is the benefits to be earned.

To understand it more, we should always remember that the purpose of acquiring educational equipment in any Institute is to provide the students with a facility to understand the theory in a practical way. To give an example we have to take simple cases where the student needs to understand Hooke’s Law or Boyle’s Law. Such experimental setup, generally, is simple and not so complicated. This makes such sets affordable to any lab with a limited budget. Technically any experimental system can be equipped with the appropriate sensors and transducers to facilitate PC-data acquisition. However, when we look at these two examples we will find that the cost fo “computerisation” is way higher than the cost for the basic system itself. When we look at the benefit we would find that “computerisation” may save us a little time, but in the meantime, beside the disadvantage of the cost burden, the student is not exposed to following the steps of taking the readings. The valid question always remain; In such equipment is it really worth paying so much in order to take a set of a few readings?

On the other hand, for some experimental systems PC-data acquisition and control might become a necessity; thouhg the manula control and setup of the experiment should not be ruled out completely. One good example of this is Process Control, where the student would gain a hands-on experience in dealing with such controls in the real industry beside understanding the whole process. In general such equipment, in their basic form, are not really cheap. Adding computerisation to them would be only within a reasonable percentage of the overall cost. In such case, PC-datar acquisition / control would be justifiable.

Therefor, computerisation should not be taken always cosidered an advantage to tag one supplier as superior to the others. It may be illuding to the point that the client may pay too much for very little advantage. A balance must always be there; education is not a show bunisess, rather it is genuin process to create an educated generation using the normally limited resources allocated for education.