Unconventional Learning

Today Students Demand Online Lessons, If Not Virtual Teachers, or Devices to Replace the Conventional Human Educator

Katherine BonfanteBy Katherine Bonfante, Managing Editor, Digital Media

For centuries, the preferred and widely accepted method of learning has been one where students physically attend a centrally located school, sit in front of a blackboard and listen to an instructor go over the day's lessons. In recent years, learning via virtual approaches has infiltrated schools, and students today demand online lessons, if not virtual teachers, or devices to replace the conventional human educator.

Today, simulation software, virtual reality and online tools are all part of unconventional teaching methods. These techniques have proven to be convenient and effective. In the past, simulation tools were used to teach students how to drive automobiles, fly planes and even space ships, but how is simulation used in industrial automation? How are our machine builders and integrators using this technology to their and the industry's advantage?

One of our contributors, Don Talend, who specializes in technical trade media, wrote the article, "Prototyping of the Virtual Type." In this piece, Talend covered digital simulation tools and how these can be used to integrate functional areas of design, improving product quality, maximizing throughput and reducing time to market. Visit www.ControlDesign.com/digitalsimulation to read this article and learn more.

We also surveyed our readers to find out how they were using design and simulation software. We wanted to know what our machine builder audience finds useful about E-CAD and simulation software. The findings of this survey were analyzed and interpreted in the video, Market Intelligence Report: Design & Simulation Software, a CIA Virtual Brigade Briefing. Watch this online video report at www.ControlDesign.com/simulation, and see if you agree.

When it comes to designing embedded machine control systems, traditional methods typically involve multiple stages of development that require specialized electronic design automation (EDA) tools. Getting all the specifics correct can take a few tries. Different system integrators offer hardware and software equipment that can facilitate the system designing process. Visit www.ControlDesign.com/graphical to read "Graphical System Design for Machine Control," and learn how National Instruments' hardware and software can help.

A few decades ago, simulation seemed like a futuristic technology, far from ever being useful, but now simulation is more accessible to everyone and to different processes. Executive Editor Jim Montague talked about the changes in system design tools that are pushing CAD and CAE drawings into the real world in his article, "System Design Tools Make Simulation Real." Read this article at www.ControlDesign.com/realsimulation, and see how Web-based diagnostics tools can pre-operate individual machines even before they are built.