Evolution of the Learning Lab: “HAT virtual” – from presence to virtual workshop

The name: Learning Lab.
The idea: haptic technology experience in small groups.
The scenario: 1 room, 1 instructor, 25 students.

This is how the situation looked just a few months ago.

The Covid 19 pandemic confronted the Learning Lab, and with it Professors Dr. Holger Günzel and Dr. Lars Brehm from Munich University of Applied Sciences, with the task of adapting the Learning Lab workshops for online use.

In mid-2020, the first workshop – DBF (Digital Business Foundation) – successfully moved into virtuality, enabling students from all corners of the globe to participate. This success story continued in October: The HAT (Home Automation with Internet of Things) workshop makes its successful online debut with 50 students.

To do this, the following workshop components were adapted:

ComponentOn-Site-FormatVirtual Format
Hardware PlatformRaspberry PiAWS Linux Server :
managed via Terraform
Sensors & OutputSense-HATTrinket: browserbased
Sense-HAT Simulation
Node-REDNode-RED with
Node-RED with
Sense-HAT Simulator
Working in small groupTablesZoom-Breakouts
Collaborative WritingPost-ItsNuclino-Workspace
Components On-Site vs. virtual Learning Lab Format
Nuclino Central Hub

By the way: The assignments of the virtual workshop format and the Terraform scripts are, of course, openly available in the community.

Kicked off: virtual version of the workshop “Digital Business Foundation”

Students that sit together at tables one next to another, vivid discussions and lecturers that look over their shoulders. What used to be the normal within universities is no longer possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic today. New educational as well as learning models are in demand in order to bridge distance and substitute presence classes.

The Learning Lab – whose core purpose is experiencing technology haptically within small groups- had to manage the challenge, too. The solution: The teams ‘met’ virtually via Zoom breakout sessions. Additionally, the webtool Nuclino was used for collaborative writing and exchanging information – something, that usually would be done with post-its, flipcharts and discussions. Instead of a Raspberry Pi as the local wordpress server, the student teams work on a Linux server hosted on the AWS Cloud (Amazon Web Services).

Linux server on AWS provided for the student groups.

The required Linux servers are not set up individually/manually. Instead, they are setup automatically via scripting in Terraform. This way the infrastructure is easily adjustable as well as scalable (e.g. for 10 teams and beyond). Being able to start and stop the service at the push of a button, it is also saving costs.

Terraform in order to automatically set up linux servers.

With this technological premise the Learning Lab workshop “Digital Business Foundation” (DBF) moved into the virtual space. This way the established didactical approach also succeeds within the new group work from distance setting.

By the way: This virtual approach of the affected assignments and Terraform scripts is of course publicly available within the community. So, please utilize it to your benefit as well.

Learning Lab „Digital Technologies“ takes part in COVID-19 mask production

The Learning Lab “Digital Technologies” participated with students in the COVID-19 mask production. Based on the Learning Lab stream “Print your own world” (POW), which teaches students about 3D printing, students were challenged with a 3D printer to print face and mouth masks to address the Corona crisis. An educational video provided by Learning Lab provides a quick introduction to mass production:

3D print of a face mask

In total, several students from different faculties participated in the action.

Jochen Göltenboth, student at the faculty for tourism with his print of a face mask (Image: Jochen Göltenboth)
This is how the finished face mask looks after printing (Image: Fabio D’Antino)