A Virtual Laboratory on Natural Computing: A Learning Experiment

A Virtual Laboratory on Natural Computing: A Learning Experiment

Leandro Nunes de Castro (Catholic University of Santos, Brazil), Julho Muñoz Yupanqui (Catholic University of Santos, Brazil), Leandro Rubim de Freitas (Catholic University of Santos, Brazil) and Niño El-Hani Charbel (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-934-2.ch006
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Natural computing is a terminology used to describe computational algorithms developed by taking inspiration from information processing mechanisms in nature, methods to synthesize natural phenomena in computers, and novel computational approaches based on natural materials. The virtual laboratory on natural computing (LVCoN) is a Web environment to support the teaching and learning of natural computing, and whose goal is to provide didactic contents about the main themes in natural computing, in addition to interactive simulations, videos, exercises, links for related sites, forum, and other materials. This article describes an experiment with LVCoN during a School of Computing in Brazil. The results are presented in four parts: Self-Evaluation, Evaluation of LVCoN, Evaluation of the Simulations (Applets), and Interviews. The results allowed us to positively evaluate the structure and contents of LVCoN, in the sense that most students were satisfied with the environment. Besides, most students liked the experience of working with a virtual laboratory, and considered a hybrid teaching approach; that is, one mixing lectures with virtual learning, very appropriate and productive.

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