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29 September 1999 Virtual experiments in electronics: beyond logistics, budgets, and the art of the possible
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It is common and correct to suppose that computers support flexible delivery of educational resources by offering virtual experiments that replicate and substitute for experiments traditionally offered in conventional teaching laboratories. However, traditional methods are limited by logistics, costs, and what is physically possible to accomplish on a laboratory bench. Virtual experiments allow experimental approaches to teaching and learning to transcend these limits. This paper analyses recent and current developments in educational software for 1st- year physics, 2nd-year electronics engineering and 3rd-year communication engineering, based on three criteria: (1)Is the virtual experiment possible in a real laboratory? (2)How direct is the link between the experimental manipulation and the reinforcement of theoretical learning? (3) What impact might the virtual experiment have on the learner's acquisition of practical measurement skills? Virtual experiments allow more flexibility in the directness of the link between experimental manipulation and the theoretical message. However, increasing the directness of this link may reduce or even abolish the measurement processes associated with traditional experiments. Virtual experiments thus pose educational challenges: (a) expanding the design of experimentally based curricula beyond traditional boundaries and (b) ensuring that the learner acquires sufficient experience in making practical measurements.
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Brian Chapman "Virtual experiments in electronics: beyond logistics, budgets, and the art of the possible", Proc. SPIE 3894, Education in Microelectronics and MEMS, (29 September 1999);

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