CastingArea, Some Characteristics of an Internet-Based Study Material


Some Characteristics of an Internet-Based Study Material (2005) *

Denyo Alipiev

Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria





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Introduction

In the present paper are shown some characteristics of an Internet-based study material. Placing of such materials in the web has been practiced from its inception and for that reason the characteristics that are reviewed here can be seen as both well-known and discussion ones, without any pretense for thoroughness or imposition of final judgment.


Advantages of Internet presentation

Without belittling the necessity and usefulness of the existing study material on paper, which has been written by authoritative authors, a study material that is placed in Internet (for example a manual in material science or metalwork) presupposes the following advantages when taking into account that internet is mundane for students:
  • fast and timely renewal and improvement of the already written material, brought on by the appearance of an important piece of news, critical response or by mistakes incurred, changed standards, outdated test equipment and concepts, etc. Important news are not a daily affair though, take metalwork for example, and so such dynamic renewal of information is not warranted. Furthermore, according to most notions, the study material is something conservative, strict and not subject to change on a whim. Therefore there is a serious difference from study material on paper, which has corrections made only in the next issue, provided there is one;
  • first-class opportunities for creating relations with other information sources, which would clarify, expand and illustrate a given theme. Which does not mean indiscriminate connections to sites with unchecked content or to renowned browsers like Google, all this just to show how good someone is in the world-wide web, but following a very strict (and after a lot of work, because the sources are all too many) realization of connection with the most suitable and best developed site capable of clarifying the developed theme. The study material on paper has a limitation of space. For this reason Internet-based material has the incomparable advantages of illustrative presence and through this - of impact, by rerouting to sites of world-famous companies and/or research centres, where the application of a certain technology is shown in more detail, modern software is used, the machines, equipment and test apparatus are latest model, etc. At the same time, the internet version is not overloaded because the electable links lead to data carried on another server;
  • the juxtaposition of variants on the same theme, developed by different authors, a thing which is uncommon and unacceptable in any paper bound monography. If such a competitive presentation were to occur, the positive outcome will be the elimination (or infrequent visits) of educational materials, which are done in an extremely scientific, elevated, incomprehensible and tormenting the reader style. Whether some of the authors will have an interest in such competition is yet another matter;
  • the presentation of a theme written by a single author in several variants with differing volume, complexity and suitable examples of application, depending on the speciality of the students. In this way, a technology can be explained in detail during the education of future technologists and only informatively to economics-engineering specialities;
  • the unlimited inclusion of historical information on the development of a certain technology or process. This achieves the easy conviction that some things were made (discovered, researched, applied) by people before us. In this respect, it is good to establish some links to web-available biographies of famous scientists with contributions to the respective theme. That way these people will not remain completely unknown to students. Similar links can be realized also through quoting the authors in a block with the utilized literary sources;
  • and another thing which is unthinkable for paper editions - the uncomplicated prompt publishing of photos of the educational process at a certain moment or period of time, with the main characters and the students who alternate every year as usual. Such incorporation, within the limits of say one term, grabs students with their direct participation in the work and development of a certain theme, which has impressive results on their education.

Some further characteristics

Internet presentation is accompanied by several requirements, inconveniences and unfavourable circumstances:
  • a computer with Internet connection is needed (more and more people would smile that this is treated as a problem);
  • a man has to have steady nerves in front of the screen, to have the willpower to focus on the theme without addiction and to avoid at least for a time the information temptations in internet;
  • the possible reroutings are most often to materials in a foreign language. Although the Internet generation can handle somewhat English, in such cases it can be useful to make a short description in the native language about what to expect after the rerouting (for example, a simulation of a given process) to clear the confusion in terminology;
  • an irksome contact with the web-designing hobby of some "professional" is always to be expected. This person generates an amazingly modern presentation of certain educational material, with terrific animations, breath-taking photos and astonishing backgrounds. But by the time the visitor has reached the heart of the developed theme, he is frustrated with the colourfulness and laboured reading. Besides which, the internet connection and computer are not always are up to the level suited for prolonged delight of some web master creations;
  • it is well known that the electronic publication is visible everywhere and the authors who have "accidentally" borrowed whole text passages with photos (copyrighted photos of structures, figures, technology schemes and etc.) will experience hardships in their Internet-expressions. All this may sound silly to people who abide by someone's rights but here it is noted because there are examples of unsanctioned (pre)publishing of copyrighted texts on behalf of students ....and teaching (academical) staff. And to consider that Internet will ever be free of such performances is an illusion;
  • this sort of study information will be accessed predominantly with paid access. This will please even further the copyright violators, when entering a given server without sanction;
  • this may not last long, but in Bulgaria at least, publications in internet (with educational or research aim) are not known to carry any recognition and bring benefits towards professional advancement. Even with respect to the making of elementary evaluations (attestations), the document forms are devoid of space for Internet publications. Until now, for a lecture or report, which has no interest to anybody but the author, are awarded points whereas for maintaining a site with complex and daily renewed information on mechanical engineering there isn't even a proposal for evaluation. This is an excellent theme for future discussions.

Conclusions

Different themes connected with the study program in material science and metalwork in the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria are published in Bulgarian site Casting Area by the present paper's author. They are intended for freshmen and encompass titles popular all over the world like Metallography analysis, Hardness tests, Tensile strength test, Thermal analysis, Phase diagrams, Fe-C diagram, Steel hardening, Non-ferrous alloys, Plastic materials, Ceramics, Glass materials, Green-sand moulding, Shell-process, Investment casting, Pressure die casting, Counter pressure die casting, etc.

These materials are in accordance with the aforementioned characteristics. The addition of more themes is imminent, all of which can be viewed by anybody, at any single moment and from everywhere. The existing information can be critically commented on or expanded with something interesting. The access is free and will remain as such. The students, who are trained and have the need, have a product at their disposal which can help in their preparation for exams without stress and would deepen their interest in the mentioned fields.




* Paper of the 3rd Balkan Region Conference on Engineering Education, September 12-15, 2005, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Sibiu, Romania
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