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Applying An Interactive, Modular Approach To Effectively Teach Signal Processing Concepts

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Educational Software

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.214.1 - 13.214.8



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Paper Authors


Sam Shearman National Instruments

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Sam Shearman is a Senior Product Manager for Signal Processing and Communications at National Instruments (Austin, TX). Working for the firm since 2000, he has served in roles involving product management and R&D related to signal processing, communications, and measurement. Prior to working with NI, he worked as a technical trade press editor and as a research engineer. As a trade press editor for Personal Engineering & Instrumentation News, he covered PC-based test and analysis markets. His research engineering work involved embedding microstructures in high-volume plastic coatings for non-imaging optics applications. He received a BS (1993) in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA).

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Erik Luther National Instruments


Ed Doering Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Edward Doering received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Iowa State University in 1992, and has been a member the ECE faculty at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology since 1994. He teaches courses in digital systems, circuits, image processing, and electronic music synthesis, and his research interests include technology-enabled education, image processing, and FPGA-based signal processing.

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

Applying an Interactive, Modular Approach to Effectively Teach Signal Processing Concepts


Working with computer-based tools such as LabVIEW1 and Camtasia2, educators can easily create interactive simulations, screencasts, and other types of multimedia that augment learning with content that is interactive, engaging, and readily available. Lectures, in-class demos, and laboratory projects for the Rose-Hulman ECE481 music synthesis and audio signal processing course, have been deployed as a set of learning modules hosted on Connexions (, encouraging free distribution, customization, and localization of the content. The course materials include “screencasts” – narrated videos of computer screen activity. The screencasts embody the theoretical exposition with handwriting, diagrams, and animations drawn on a tablet device, and also demonstrate LabVIEW programming techniques to implement the concepts. In addition, downloadable LabVIEW simulations (VIs) offer students interactive tutorials that reinforce the discussed theory. The modular nature of the learning materials and its open availability on Connexions supports faculty who wish to augment an existing DSP course with selected topics and projects, as well as faculty who wish to create a new course similar to ECE481.


This paper relates our application of screencasts, interactive LabVIEW Virtual Instruments (VIs), and Connexions-based deployment for these learning modules. As we define these elements and examine how they can augment the learning experience, we also discuss some guidelines / “best practices” related to optimizing production, development and deployment. Considerations range from module style, content organization, and method of delivery to how to effectively develop screencasts and interactive VIs. A companion paper3, examines the course content, focusing on the subject material.

Content of a Typical Module

This project involved creating over 50 learning modules as part of an online course, “Musical Signal Processing with LabVIEW.”4 The modules address topics and projects from Rose Hulman ECE481, an elective music synthesis and audio signal processing course.

Modules consist of several different types of content. Some components are analogous to what you might find in a textbook or a lab manual. Such material includes text, equations, figures, example problems / solutions, and step-by-step project instructions. Other module components, including screencast videos and downloadable LabVIEW VIs, are more dynamic, intended to engage the student with video presentations and interactive exploration of concepts. Figure 1 shows a typical module from this course, “Additive Synthesis Techniques.”5

Shearman, S., & Luther, E., & Doering, E. (2008, June), Applying An Interactive, Modular Approach To Effectively Teach Signal Processing Concepts Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3990

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