The Forging Online Education through FIRE (FORGE) initiative provides educators and learners in higher education with access to world-class FIRE testbed infrastructure. FORGE supports experimentally driven research in an eLearning environment by complementing traditional classroom and online courses with interactive remote laboratory experiments. The project has achieved its objectives by defining and implementing a framework called FORGEBox. This framework offers the methodology, environment, tools and resources to support the creation of HTML-based online educational material capable accessing virtualized and physical FIRE testbed infrastructure easily. FORGEBox also captures valuable quantitative and qualitative learning analytic information using questionnaires and Learning Analytics that can help optimise and support student learning. To date, FORGE has produced courses covering a wide range of networking and communication domains. These are freely available from FORGEBox.eu and have resulted in over 24,000 experiments undertaken by more than 1,800 students across 10 countries worldwide. This work has shown that the use of remote high performance testbed facilities for hands-on remote experimentation can have a valuable impact on the learning experience for both educators and learners. Additionally, certain challenges in developing FIRE-based courseware have been identified, which has led to a set of recommendations in order to support the use of FIRE facilities for teaching and learning purposes.
Abstract: The ability to repeat experiments from a research study and obtain similar results is a corner stone in experiment-based scientific discovery. This essential feature has often been overlooked by the distributed computing and networking community. There are many reasons for that, such as the complexity of provisioning, configuring, and orchestrating the resources used by experiments, their multiple external dependencies, or the difficulty to seamlessly record these dependencies. This chapter describes a methodology based on well-established principles to plan, prepare and execute reproducible experiments. We propose and describe a family of tools, the LabWiki workspace, to support an experimenter’s workflow based on that methodology. This proposed workspace provides services and mechanisms for each step of an experiment-based study, while automatically capturing the necessary information to allow others to repeat, inspect, validate and modify prior experiments. Our LabWiki workspace builds on existing contributions, de-facto protocols, and model standards, which emerged from recent experimental facility initiatives. We use a real experiment as a thread to guide and illustrate the discussion throughout this chapter.