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A Paperless (Almost) Statics Course

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.33.1 - 3.33.9

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

Session 1658

A Paperless (almost) Statics Course H. Jack Padnos School of Engineering Grand Valley State University


An on-line statics course will be described. This course has evolved over time to be run from the Internet using Web browsers and standard software. The course Web site ( contains a complete set of course notes, student pages, additional materials and references. Prob- lem solutions are available here in electronic form (for Mathcad and Working Model). Students submit all their work during the term and post results to their Web pages. Homework is marked and returned electronically. The only activity still using paper is examinations. Special attention is given to how a beginner would develop and run a new or existing Web based course.


At Grand Valley State University we teach a course in statics and solid mechanics (EGR 209) in the sophomore year. Originally this course was taught using traditional techniques. The recent emergence of the World Wide Web (Web) as a popular standard presented new possibilities for teaching options. In the fall of 1996 I taught the course for the first time making limited use of the Internet as a presentation and communication tool [5]. Based on the success of the results, I expanded the use to eliminate paper-based assignments and distribute problem solutions. The specific objectives of the developments were i) find useful new techniques for teaching statics, ii) encourage the students to learn and use the Web, iii) expose the students to modern engineering support tools (symbolic algebra and simulations) to reduce trivial work and prepare them for senior level courses.


2.1 THE INCOMING STUDENTS At the beginning of the course, I informally assessed the students to determine the range of com- puter experience. In general the level of student knowledge was dispersed. I estimated that most of the students were proficient computer users. Four of the students (less than 10% of the class) had inadequate computer knowledge - they were all mature/transfer students. About 3/4 of the students had used a Web browser, but only about 1/4 had generated their own Web pages. About 3/4 of the students had used Mathcad in a previous course in probability (EGR 103) the only deficiencies were for transfer students who had taken an equivalent course at another school. None of the students had used the required software called Working Model ( before.

For students that had no computer experience various options were encouraged including some personal assistance, direction to resources and extra help for some steps. In-class demonstration

Jack, H. (1998, June), A Paperless (Almost) Statics Course Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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