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An Online Geomechanics Course With A Virtual Rock Lab Based On Streaming Audio And Vector Graphics

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.184.1 - 6.184.9

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Paper Authors

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John Kemeny

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Bryan Zeitler

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

Session 3647

An Online Geomechanics Course with a Virtual Rock Lab Based on Streaming Audio and Vector Graphics

John Kemeny, Bryan Zeitler University of Arizona, Tucson

1.0 Introduction

The development of an online distance-delivery approach for both undergraduate and graduate engineering courses is a popular and exciting venture at the present time. Online courses allow flexibility in engineering programs and more importantly allow working professionals to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees without becoming residential students. At the same time, it is important to ensure that online courses provide the highest quality education possible. Thus issues such as learning styles, interactivity and bandwidth must be taken into account when developing online engineering courses.

This paper describes the development of an online geomechanics course with a virtual rock lab. The online course is based on a traditional in-class geomechanics course that has been taught by Professor Kemeny since 1990. This course includes in-class lectures and a weekly lab. Like many engineering courses, the lectures utilize a whiteboard for derivations, problem solving and drawings; an overhead projector for graphs and tables; and a computer projector for high- resolution images, video and the demonstration of computer software. Interactivity is another important element of the engineering classroom experience. One of the challenges in developing the online course was to develop an approach that can effectively capture these classroom elements. In addition, the rock lab provides a hands-on, kinesthetic experience for the students, as well as a writing experience in the form of laboratory reports. The second challenge was to develop an innovative approach to capture these important laboratory experiences.

Several innovative multimedia components have been adapted to meet the challenges described above. For the lecture portion of the course, an approach that utilizes streaming audio and vector graphics was adapted. The streaming audio comes from actual lectures, and animated vector graphics are used to simulate the dynamic whiteboard environment. In addition, there is a separate window for high-resolution graphics and video, and another window for real-time access to an interactive discussion forum. For the laboratory portion of the course, streaming video of actual demonstrations of laboratory procedures is used. In addition, for each type of test, a “rock breaking simulator” has been developed that allows students to collect their own unique data set, with subsequent data analysis and report writing.

The online geomechanics course will debut in 2001 and will be part of the Arizona Tri- University Master of Engineering program (University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University)1. This tri-University program focuses on online course delivery, allowing working professionals as well as residential students to obtain a Master’s degree. A limited number of trials were conducted with the online course in the Fall of 2000. The response to these trials were overwhelmingly positive and indicated that the approach has many

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Kemeny, J., & Zeitler, B. (2001, June), An Online Geomechanics Course With A Virtual Rock Lab Based On Streaming Audio And Vector Graphics Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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