Interactive and integrated visualization modules as a secondary learning tool for undergraduate renewable energy courses
There is a growing need of renewable energy related courses (e.g. fuel cells) among undergraduate students in different majors such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and chemistry. To date, many courses offered by various departments focused on different aspect of fuel cells technologies such as materials, electro-chemistry, mechanical properties, or integration.
In this funded project, a content-wise, interconnected software is developed so that students can have an overall picture of fuel cells and a better understanding of the technologies and science involved in fuel cells from the system-level perspective. Learning materials are delivered through online visualization, animation, and videos to increase learning motivation and retention of students.
Software modules and learning effectiveness assessment tools are developed simultaneously. Modules are programmed, mainly using Adobe Flash Professional, for five different levels: introduction, applications, fuel cell systems, cell and stack, and fuel cell science. All these modules are inter-connected. For example, how the fuel cell thermo-dynamic related design coefficients affect the integration of a fuel cell into an unmanned aerial vehicle is discussed using real examples through videos and animations. The assessment includes pre- and post- tests that measure students' learning outcomes and course motivation. In addition, focus group interviews are used.
Two undergraduate courses have been used to evaluate the software, both of which have more than 130 students enrolled: Senior Design (more focus on the application of fuel cells) and Thermodynamics (more focus on the science part of fuel cells). The data analysis results using the data collected from both courses revealed that the student learning outcomes and their course motivation have been significantly improved.
It is anticipated that the investigated approach can benefit a wide range of other courses which need system level understandings.
The software module development is the most challenging part and we have gone through the whole cycle of design.
A. Aman, Y. Xu, H. Bai, and N. Orlovskaya, ﾓInterconnected software modules to aid the learning of fuel cell courses,ﾔ the ASEEﾒs 122nd Annual conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA, June 14-17, 2015.