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Preserving Hands-On Learning Experience with Physical Equipment in Distance Learning—Findings of a Course Pilot

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Since 2016, SZTAKI and Fraunhofer Austria/TU Wien have been exploring possibilities of adding a cross-site dimension to learning factory courses. The pandemic situation has highlighted the relevance of certain collaboration practices, suggesting that real-time remote connection to processes and use of virtual models can recover a significant part of the hands-on experience students normally gain with physical equipment. This working assumption was successfully tested in a summer school course for layout and process planning in human–robot collaborative assembly, jointly organized by SZTAKI and Fraunhofer Austria in 2021. The paper recapitulates findings tat could be gained with the first limited run involving 8 students, highlights recognized issues, and presents opportunities for extending the course or adopting the practices in other learning factory scenarios.