Interactive animation and visualization in a virtual soil mechanics laboratory
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With the advances in information technology over the last decade, the traditional teaching format of having an individual lecture to an audience has been supplemented and, in some cases, replaced by the rapid development and implementation of new distance learning methods. As technology rapidly changes, the importance of educating and training diverse populations of construction science students become more critical. It has become relatively easy to develop web-based course materials for courses that do not have laboratory components. However, technology is currently available that allows for the development of virtual laboratories. It is now possible to develop laboratory courseware that can simulate very sophisticated and costly equipment and reach larger sections of the student population. The paper demonstrates a web-based interactive virtual soil mechanics laboratory for construction science. The main elements of the presented approach are: a means of assimilating the students' interactive learning knowledge and behavior, representation of the instructor's guidance and assessment knowledge, and utilization of motivational techniques such as multimedia, animation and Java simulation of laboratory soil tests. The presented paper illustrates some of the laboratory soil tests that are simulated with multimedia interaction and visualization techniques for enhancing the student's subject visualization and conceptual understanding in soil mechanics.
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