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Electronic Course Packaging For Statics And Dynamics: A Review Of Effort, Reward And Potential

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Internet Delivery of Mechanics Courses

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.591.1 - 12.591.13

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Paper Authors


Peter Boyle Saint Mary's University

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W. Peter Boyle holds B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from The Queen's University of Belfast, is Professor of Engineering at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, N. S., and was previously Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of a McGraw-Hill textbook on introductory fluid mechanics, and about forty publications in a variety of topics in mechanical engineering. A current interest is in the search for superior cost and time effective course delivery methods.

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

Electronic Course Packaging for Statics and Dynamics: A Review of Effort, Reward and Potential Abstract

This paper describes the deployment of an electronic compilation, known here as an ePAC, in Statics and Dynamics courses. A primary objective was the development of a more efficient means to deliver introductory mechanics. In this context efficiency means maximizing the rate of material assimilated by students, while maintaining course integrity, student satisfaction and enjoyment levels.

An essential feature of the methodology was that all course elements, except tests, were available online at registration time. Onus was placed on self-directed study at a student’s convenience, with the professor adding enrichment in class. A commercial software served as the workhorse for most of the symbol and number manipulation required for the solution of textbook problems.

The courses that are the subject of this paper were delivered using an electronic course package with the following components:

1) The framework was a commercial course management system (CMS). 2) Two recently published e-texts were employed, allied with evolving, and somewhat problematic, solution manuals. 3) Online tests were used with automatic marking of tests and assignments. What was gained and what was lost with synchronous marking is discussed. 4) The instructor’s e-lecture notes amplified, simplified and clarified the textbooks. The students were provided with all lecture notes upon CMS registration. 5) Students solved text and test problems with the aid of a proprietary equation solving software. This approach was well suited to online problem sets, with input data refreshed at each student solution attempt. If stuck, students e-mailed their computer models to either the TA or the instructor, providing, at times, almost 24/7 access to help. 6) Students taking introductory mechanics may have unpredictable math and computer backgrounds, and an equation solving software can be a great leveler. To minimize software learning time students were provided with a course specific, instructor authored, software supplement. They were encouraged to read the supplement before the first day of lectures. About sixty interactive models and six animated screen videos prepared the student for self-test exercises. About ten hours were required for a student to assimilate the material in the software supplement, and the paper discusses the value of this time commitment. 7) The role of virtual laboratory exercises included in the ePAC is briefly described.


Improvements in online learning tools, evolving student demands and universal computer access, prompt the initiation of course delivery methods that challenge the hegemony of traditional presentation formats. The courses described here were not offered by distance delivery, but the concept of electronic bundling has features in common with online education, particularly the

Boyle, P. (2007, June), Electronic Course Packaging For Statics And Dynamics: A Review Of Effort, Reward And Potential Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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