Dr. Gary W. Rubloff
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Process diagnostics, sensing, metrology, and control
Semiconductor manufacturing processes and equipment
Systems modeling, simulation, and optimization
Engineered learning systems

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All materials at this site are copyrighted 2003 by the University of Maryland
1996-2003, all rights reserved

Research:
Engineered learning systems  (return)
Current
 

SimPLE

a software framework for authoring, collaboration, and management of simulation-based education and training

see the web site for CELS, the Center for Engineered Learning Systems

                

SimPLE (Simulated Processes in a Learning Environment)
Exercising the dynamic simulators represents a virtual experience of potentially great value for educational purposes, providing learners with hands-on active learning experience. These simulators provide a basis for the construction of educational modules in which the learner "operates" the system (or equipment) through a graphical user interface (GUI) designed to suit the student, while the GUI communicates in software with the input/output variables of a physically-based, validated simulator. By incorporating structures known to be effective in human-computer interactions and choosing an effective software architecture for active feedback to the learner (e.g., error messages as well as guidance materials), simulation-based educational tools present the possibility of a new educational paradigm.  This project is dedicated to the construction and testing of manufacturing education and training modules for operators and engineers in the factory as well as students in academic settings.
Tightly coupled guidance
Reference materials authored in html appear in the Guidance Window to explain concepts, provide exercises, and offer learner-driven investigation.  When the mouse passes over highlighted terms used in the guidance materials, the corresponding object in the Focus Window (system image) is highlighted, thus creating a tight link between supportive guidance and system focal point.  Reverse connections are also available, providing access to glossary and background materials on components in the system image.  Authoring of these linkages in facilitated by tools built into the SimPLE architecture.
Experimentation environment
Various features available in the SimPLE environment support learner-driven exploration of system behavior, including ability to change system design parameters, a lab notebook which records these automatically as well as the learner's commentary on observations, timers for experiments, etc.
Learning Historian
The actions of the learner in operating the system are captured by the Learning Historian.  They can be subsequently reviewed as a visual history, replayed through the simulator, revised and annotated, and saved as a history file.  History files can be shared remotely, used for tutorials and demonstrations, included as questions for an instructor, or exchanged with peers in collaborative learning.  The Learning Historian also provides the basis for educational research on what is effective and how learner use tools of information technology for education. 
Efficient authoring
The software architecture of SimPLE modules supports rapid authoring of new modules, particularly by separating the requirements for the domain expert/author and the software designer.  

The domain expert concentrates on building the underlying simulation models using familiar, commercially available simulation software platforms, and on developing guidance materials and instructional scaffolding.  A portfolio of authoring tools is available to facilitate the authoring process.

The software designer bases GUI design on the graphical suggestions of the domain expert, and implements connectivity between the GUI and the underlying simulator as specified by the domain expert/author.

Instructional module configurability
SimPLE provides authoring tools for determining what objects are visible at what stage of the instructional scaffolding, what guidance materials are shown, what simulation models are used, etc. 


 

 

 

Research support: NSF, Visual Solutions Inc., CVC Products