The Digiphyslab Project: Digital physics laboratory work for on-campus and distance learning


  • Antti Lehtinen University of Jyväskylä
  • Pekka Pirinen University of Jyväskylä
  • Simon Z. Lahme University of Göttingen
  • Pascal Klein University of Göttingen
  • Ana Sušac University of Zagreb
  • Bruno Tomrlin University of Zagreb


experimental work, laboratory course, undergraduate students, digital technologies



With the emergence of the COVID-19 in spring 2020, physics teaching at university level needed to be rapidly transformed into a distance learning mode all around the world. While lectures and tutorials could rather easily be substituted with video conferences, self-study materials, or recorded videos, transforming a hands-on laboratory course into distance learning is much more challenging facing its traditional structures, manifold learning objectives, and the essential use of typical laboratory equipment (Hut et al., 2020; Jelicic et al., 2022; Werth et al., 2021). 


A promising approach to develop laboratory courses especially, and to offer these courses in a distance learning mode, is to use digital technologies like smartphones. Smartphones are widely used, often cheaper than traditional equipment and allow convenient data collection and analysis by utilising built-in sensors. Thus, smartphones provide an affordable opportunity to conduct experiments beyond the laboratory. Additionally, they can enhance inquiry-based learning processes due to the reduction of students’ extraneous cognitive load (Becker et al., 2020).


The DigiPhysLab-project (Lahme et al., in press), co-funded by the European Union, follows this approach of utilising digital technologies like smartphones for physics experiments by developing 15 high-quality, competence-centered experimental tasks that can therefore be implemented either in on-campus or distance learning settings. All developed tasks are linked to a theoretical framework for design principles of experimental tasks and evaluated with students at the participating universities. The task instructions and further materials are published as open educational resources on the project website ( In the presentation, the framework, the tasks, and the evaluation scheme are presented, and the usability of the tasks is discussed.


Becker, S., Klein, P., Gößling, A., & Kuhn, J. (2020). Using mobile devices to enhance inquiry-based learning processes. Learning and Instruction, 69, 101350.

Hut, R. W., Pols, C. F. J., & Verschuur, D. J. (2020). Teaching a hands-on course during corona lockdown: from problems to opportunities. Physics Education, 55(6), 065022.

Jelicic, K., Geyer, M. A., Ivanjek, L., Klein, P., Küchemann, S., Dahlkemper, M. N., & Susac, A. (2022). Lab courses for prospective physics teachers: what could we learn from the first COVID-19 lockdown? What could we learn from the first COVID-19 lockdown? European Journal of Physics, 43(5), 55701.

Lahme, S. Z., Klein, P., Lehtinen, A., Müller, A., Pirinen, P., Susac, A., & Tomrlin, B. (in press). DigiPhysLab: Digital Physics Laboratory Work for Distance Learning. PhyDid B - Didaktik der Physik - Beiträge zur DPG-Frühjahrstagung - online 2022.

Werth, A., Hoehn, J. R., Oliver, K., Fox, M. F. J., & Lewandowski, H. J. (2021). Rapid Transition to Remote Instruction of Physics Labs During Spring 2020: Instructor Perspectives. arXiv.

Author Biography

Antti Lehtinen, University of Jyväskylä

Antti Lehtinen is a Senior Lecturer of Physics Education at a shared position between the Department of Physics and Department of Teacher Education at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His has done research on science teacher education, inquiry-based science learning and teaching and the use of simulations in science teaching. His current main research interest is the development of physics instructional labs at the university level concentrating on e.g. the use of smart phones, the role and training of the teaching assistants and assessment and feedback of instructional labs. He is coordinating the European Union -funded project “DigiPhysLab” which concentrates on developing physics lab tasks suitable for distance learning.