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Developing Web Based Tools For Environmental Courses

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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

3.197.1 - 3.197.6



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Paper Authors

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Spyros A. Kinnas

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Hillary Hart

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

Session 2251

Developing Web-Based Tools for Environmental Courses

Hillary Hart, Spyros A. Kinnas Department of Civil Engineering, University of Texas at Austin

Introduction Given the demonstrated effectiveness of active learning modes (Bonwell and Eison 1991), many colleges of engineering are strongly encouraging their faculty to develop multimedia tools to enrich coursework in engineering subjects. Making complex concepts visual and providing interactivity (and, therefore, promoting active learning) are just two of the ways that multimedia enhances engineering curricula. At the University of Texas at Austin, several environmental- engineering faculty members have begun work on an NSF-sponsored project to develop a series of multimedia tools, including a Web-based electronic textbook (E_book), for classes teaching fluid dynamics and wave theory. We believe that what we learn as developers can be passed on to teachers of all kinds of engineering courses.

This paper will present the results thus far of our development of this multimedia tool-set, including lessons learned and evaluation strategies considered. The paper will focus on the Web version of this tool, although plans are underway for developing a CD-ROM as well. The web- based materials probably present the greater challenge because “most information on the Web lacks interactivity and ways to support interactivity” (Liu 1997). This means that developing multimedia web-based tools is time-consuming and, potentially, expensive. As William Horton says, “Multimedia takes 10 times the effort of print; use it where it is 20 times as effective” (Horton 1994). To make the effort of development worth it, educators need to have clear objectives and reasonable expectations for what they want students to get out of learning with multimedia tools. It is our hope that the questions we raise here, relatively early in the project’s development, will benefit other engineering educators contemplating the use of such web- enhanced instructional material. We want to present both the practical and the pedagogical issues that are emerging.

Waves on Web (WOW) Wave theory is one of the most complex applications of fluid mechanics and thus one of the most challenging to teach. And yet the civil and environmental engineers of the future must be well grounded in the basics and the applications of wave theory in order to achieve environmentally responsible goals such as the following: design near-shore engineered systems that minimize beach erosion design off-shore structures that can survive in adverse weather conditions design ocean vehicles that can travel faster with maximum safety

The goal of these Web-based instructional tools is to enable undergraduate and graduate students to learn wave theory more actively and more visually by harnessing the power of multi-media tools, interactive learning, and electronic dissemination of information. The Web-provided E_book will support the existing required undergraduate course Elementary Mechanics of Fluids

Kinnas, S. A., & Hart, H. (1998, June), Developing Web Based Tools For Environmental Courses Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7028

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