Purpose-Oriented Small Software: A Case Study for Some Engineering Subjects

Purpose-Oriented Small Software: A Case Study for Some Engineering Subjects

Giancarlo Anzelotti (University of Parma, Italy) and Masoumeh Valizadeh (University of Guilan, Iran)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-869-2.ch012


This case emphasizes on the power of virtual tools for engineering subjects. As a more accessible approach, the authors suggest the development and application of Purpose-Oriented small software. The aim of developing these e-tools is enhancing the understanding of concepts taught in the undergraduate and graduated Mechanical, Material, Civil and many other engineering branches. The main idea behind this case is to show that even light software which is focused on a particular subject can be used as a key for engineering education.
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The critical tenet of engineering education reform is the integral role of virtual environment capabilities which is provided by fabulous advances in information technology. Current technological progresses combined with changes in engineering content and instructional method require engineering instructors to be able to design intensive and concentrated lessons for exploration and discovery of the engineering concepts through appropriate computer applications. In actual practice, however, most computer applications provided for engineering education consist of software designed for a specific educational purpose. Furthermore, economical constraints often stand in the way of incorporating such special purpose software into an instructional setting.

Owing to all the revolutions made and is being made in information transfer and computer capabilities and speed, recent decades have been witnessed many changes in the methods of engineering education and there are many new researches and methods for this task (Willis 1993; Koksal 1998; Kaufman 2000; Cloete 2001; Wankat 2002; Baker 2005; Hutten 2005; Yu 2006; Burnely 2007; Moreno 2007; Haghi 2008; Monahan 2008; Shih 2008; Toth 2008; Vadillo 2009). This paper discusses an alternative to the traditional approach which shifts the instructional focus from specific computer applications to more sophisticated uses of general purpose software. In particular, educational uses of purpose-oriented small software which can be implemented in multi purpose software are exampled as an introduction to this approach. In another vision, purpose-oriented small software can be designed as a cost-effective approach to provide practical experience to undergraduate students. The concept which is called ‘Virtual Laboratory’ and is being widely developed in engineering schools and educational programs (Gervasi 2004; Ramasundaram 2005; Kukreti 2008; Tan 2008; Vadillo 2009).

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