Mitigating the effect of capacity restrictions with the use of video pre-lab materials



Lab space was (extremely) limited. Specialist training was also required before students would be ready to use advanced technical equipment.


Videos were created to familiarise students with the necessary equipment, tools and operating procedures before arriving on-site.

This replaces some preparatory time, potentially freeing it up such that a greater number of groups could use the space in a working day.

Course overview:

This course aims to develop theoretical and practical knowledge about micro and nanofabrication of electronic devices. Operational principles of various tools and processes used in device fabrication are studied during this course. Students use this knowledge by designing a nanometre scale resistor with their unique design within given set of parameters. Then these devices are fabricated in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre and characterised using various metrology tools, where students get to see their own device design in real life and draw conclusions about their design and processing.

What was done?

  • A series of videos was recorded by technical staff at the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre (JWNC) and course leaders.
  • Videos explained how to use the software needed for electronic device design and manufacturing, as well as various pieces of lab equipment.
  • Each video covered a specific, focused topic (e.g. one video per tool, and one video per computer lab tutorial). Lectures were split into small videos covering each topic separately too.
  • Videos were recorded in the lab where possible, giving an authentic introduction to the equipment in situ. Most were created pre-Covid. Computer lab and lecture videos were made via Zoom.
  • Students accessed the videos via Moodle.
  • Students had to complete a questionnaire afterwards about the operation of the tools seen in the videos.
  • Small groups of 6 then came to the labs to fabricate the devices they had designed.
  • Where students could not visit campus, GTAs worked with the technical staff of JWNC to fabricate their designs on their behalf, and took pictures for these students to see their own designs in real life.



  • Students get more 1:1 teaching in the lab.
  • Students get to rewatch the lab videos if necessary.


  • Amount of time required in each lab per class was reduced, facilitating higher throughput (valuable during times of social distancing).



  • More demonstrators were required than usual, to ensure social distancing measures were adhered to in the lab.

Evaluation and student feedback

  • All students wanted to go to the lab, but as this was not possible, students in the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) programme were prioritised, in the spirit of the principle that the most crucial ILOs should be catered for before others.
  • All students received pictures of real-life devices that they had designed in the computer labs.
  • Students that did not have good internet connection struggled with the use of specialized software via the remote desktop service.
  • Students were overall satisfied with the delivery of the course.