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Development Of An Interactive Learning Resource In Engineering Mechanics

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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

3.210.1 - 3.210.5

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Terry Berreen

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

Session 2266

Development of an Interactive Learning Resource in Engineering Mechanics Terry Berreen Monash University, Australia

Abstract. Helping students to progressively take greater control of their own learning means that in the early years of an undergraduate course a careful selection of learning resources must be made available and some guidance through these resources is necessary. This paper deals with providing such students with interactive computer material on engineering mechanics. This material can be used in either study mode or lecture mode and contains various exercises, animations and quantitatively correct simulations. The combining of these with other learning resources such as mathematical packages and laboratory work is considered.

1. Introduction There would appear, from recent reviews of engineering education in the USA1 and in Australia2 that there is strong impetus towards a broadening of engineering courses and a striving to make students more central in the whole educational process. Coupled with these directions is a highlighting of longlife learning aspects so that students progressively take greater control of their learning. This means that as important as the technical skills is the obtaining of the learning skills to ensure a strong relationship with ever changing disciplines. This paper in considering teaching and learning resources in engineering mechanics concentrates on the development of computer material incorporating qualitatively precise simulation, animation and graphing. The developments are just not restricted to engineering mechanics, they are relevant to all engineering subjects and in fact to teaching and learning resources in general. A particular interactive teaching and learning resource, CD-Engineering Mechanics by Berreen & Alfredson3 is described.

2. Learning Resources The range of learning resources available to students has increased in the past decade, very much related to advances in information technology. These resources now include lectures, problem-based learning, tutorials, problem classes, laboratory work, the world wide web, textbooks, lecture notes, subject specific computer packages, mathematical packages etc. There has been a major increase in recent years in the learning material, including lecture notes, for many engineering courses on the web. Some of these are just lecture notes, using the web as a distributor of university course materials. These may be embellished with links to definitions and explanations but there is no strong evidence that this is significantly better than the paper and print equivalent. The reaction of many, if not most, students is to print out the material to refer to it in standard print form.

It is important to state that the learning resources to be discussed here are relevant for either problem-based learning or for lectures. This is part of its flexibility and versatility. Whilst there would appear to have been some swing in recent years towards problem-based learning in engineering courses in Australia, this is not uniform either in specific engineering faculties or in specific disciplines. The concern by some academics may be that problem-based learning, whilst satisfying some of the requirements of the ability to work in teams, to

Berreen, T. (1998, June), Development Of An Interactive Learning Resource In Engineering Mechanics Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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