Welcome to practable™

Real-world activities, online convenience

Practable™ is a cloud-based ecosystem for online practical work.

Examples of two types of Practable™ remote laboratory installations (left: wood for in-room, right: metal for public spaces). Tim has added some credits to those who have contributed so far (and thank you also to those not named – every bit helps).

What is online practical work?

Online practical work is interacting with real or simulated experimental hardware using a web browser.

Screenshot of a live session with a real spinning disk experiment hosted in Edinburgh, UK.

Why adopt online practical work?

For institutions: it has a significantly lower total cost of ownership compared to traditional in-person laboratories. Experiments take up little room, run around the clock, and do not require staff supervision.

For staff: you can design more exploratory tasks; develop active learning and scientific inquiry skills in your students; and conduct authentic assessments.

For students: your practical work schedule is flexible to suit your study and personal commitments; you can work at your own pace, at any time of the day.

Why choose the Practable™ system?

For institutions: long-term costs are predictable because the system is fully open-source, avoiding vendor lock-in. Use our services, or set up your own.

For staff: you can get started at a very low cost, well within the levels of annual lab maintenance budgets. Benefit from experiments created by other users, then add your own customisations and features to share with a community of like-minded colleagues.

For IT teams: in our architecture, experiments connect to a cloud-based infrastructure using standard web traffic (https:// and wss:// connections to port 443 via TCP) so they can be hosted on your standard internal network WITHOUT needing any special permissions or public IPv4 addresses. Students can connect from anywhere, including when they are on-campus without needing any changes to your institutional firewall settings.

How do I try this out?

Our usual public experiments will be made available again after they have completed their current tasking.

Screenshot of the booking page in December 2021 showing two publically-available experiments – what’s on offer will change depending on operational requirements.

How do I get started on my own experiments?

All of our code is open-source, and available from our organisational repository. We’re still working on the features, tooling and documentation required to facilitate adoption by other users, and welcome collaboration with early adopters who like to understand how things work. Our interfaces are written in javascript using the Vue.js framework, our servers are written in golang, the hardware is controlled by Arduino firmware written in C/C++, with printed circuit boards designed in KiCAD and custom structures designed for £D printing and laser cutting.

If you have an urgent need to access experiments or set up a laboratory, then please contact Prof Tim Drysdale. For any other discussions, we welcome your interest no matter what timescale you are considering adopting online practical work – please contact our support team in the first instance.

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