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A Case Study In Software Instruction Over The World Wide Web: The Michigan Cmu Control Tutorials For Matlab

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.2.1 - 2.2.17



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Paper Authors

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William Messner

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Dawn M. Tilbury

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3266

A Case Study in Software Instruction over the World Wide Web: The Michigan-CMU Control Tutorials for Matlab Dawn Tilbury William Messner Mechanical Engineering Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Carnegie Mellon University University of Michigan Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Abstract The World Wide Web (WWW) has given educators unprecedented opportunities to provide information to students both within their own classes and around the globe. This paper describes the development and implementation of a set of Web-based tu- torials for Matlab, a popular computation and visualization software package. The potential impact of the WWW on pedagogical objectives is discussed, and the tutori- als are presented as a case study of Web-based software instruction. Their structure and implementation are described, and feedback and statistics from the first semester of use at the University of Michigan are shown. We also describe our efforts at dissem- inating information on the tutorials to increase their use. The paper concludes with a discussion of future work planned for the tutorials and potential future applications of the concept of Web-based tutorials.

1 Introduction Engineering education (as well as the engineering profession in general) has become increas- ingly reliant on ever-more-powerful software tools to assist in solving ever-more-complex problems. Computations which once took pages of algebra now require only a press of the ‘return’ key. Instead of presenting computational techniques in the classroom, it is now possible for the professor to focus on both fundamental and advanced concepts and let the software packages do the computation. Teaching students to effectively use these new software tools can be problematic, however. Software is best learned by “playing” with it, but the user interfaces to many powerful tools are cryptic at best. The manuals are often written for advanced users and can be difficult for beginning engineering students to follow. The professor often will bring a computer into the classroom to demonstrate the software, but it can be difficult to take notes on the commands that are used.

Messner, W., & Tilbury, D. M. (1997, June), A Case Study In Software Instruction Over The World Wide Web: The Michigan Cmu Control Tutorials For Matlab Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6441

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