Analysis of Related Software, Product and Information Technology
Review of Related Literature
The World Wide Web (WWW) has given educators unprecedented opportunities to provide information to students both within their own classes and around the globe. It describes the development and implementation of a set of Web-based tutorials for Matlab, a popular computation and visualization software package. The potential impact of the WWW on pedagogical objectives is discussed, and the tutorials are presented as a case study of Web-based software instruction. Their structure and implementation are described, and feedback and statistics from the first semester of use at the University of Michigan are shown. We also describe our efforts at disseminating information on the tutorials to increase their use. It’s concludes with a discussion of future work planned for the tutorials and potential future applications of the concept of Web-based tutorials. Engineering education (as well as the engineering profession in general) has become increasingly reliant on ever-more-powerful software tools to assist in solving ever-more-complex problems. Computations which once took pages of algebra now require only a press of the return key. Instead of presenting computational techniques in the classroom, it is now possible for the professor to focus on both fundamental and advanced concepts and let the software packages do the computation.
A Case Study in Software Instruction over the World Wide Web: The Michigan-CMU Control Tutorials for Matlab. Teaching students to effectively use these new software tools can be problematic, however. Software is best learned by playing with it, but the user interfaces many powerful tools are cryptic at best. The manuals are often written for advanced users and can be difficult for beginning engineering students to follow. The professor often will bring a computer into the classroom to demonstrate the software, but it can be difficult to take notes on the commands that are used. We present a new methodology for teaching software tools. We have developed a set of tutorials for teaching students to use Matlab, a popular computational software package, in the context of Automatic Control.1 Student users are expected to run Matlab in one window of their computer and a Web browser (such as Netscape) in another. The tutorials contain Matlab code along with explanatory text to describe the objective of the commands along with the Matlab output (text or graphics). The students are encouraged to copy the commands from the browser window into Matlab (using copy and paste with the mouse), run the code, and compare the output they get with that given in the tutorials. In this way, they are able to quickly use the information presented to them. Because the tutorials are on the World Wide Web, they are immediately available to students whenever they are at a computer with a network connection. Throughout the tutorials, we assume that the users are currently taking a course on Automatic Control. The theoretical treatment of the subject matter is cursory; the emphasis is on how to use a software tool (Matlab) to analyze and design control systems
A Case Study in Software Instruction over the World Wide Web: The Michigan-CMU Control Tutorials for Matlab.
With this design, the tutorials can not only be easily integrated into an existing undergraduate controls curriculum, but they can also be used by community colleges, industry, and individuals for continuing education. With these tutorials, it is easy for engineers in academia and industry with access to the WWW, who know some classical control theory, to learn how to use Matlab to apply their knowledge and to improve their skills and understanding. In fact, our current statistics show that approximately one-fourth of the US users are from companies. The application here differs somewhat from other uses of the WWW that we have...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document