FEASIBILITY OF INTERACTIVE ETEXTBOOKS WITH COMPUTATIONALLY INTENSE CONTENT
We evaluate the technical feasibility of creating pedagogically valuable, highly interactive content in eTextbooks for the purpose of education in computationally intense fields. This research was motivated by the observation that emerging eTextbook technologies could help enhance the education of engineering students. Engineers often want to experiment and to be able to quickly see meaningful results. They want to receive immediate feedback or response for their inputs. They want interactive learning tools. Engineers want trial-and-error with a realistic system, with which they can interact, even if it is a virtual one. The most interactivity in many eTextbooks is clicking links, resizing and rotating images, or pausing/playing audio/video. Currently, emerging technologies associated with eTextbooks, and eBooks in general, are approaching a developmental level where it is possible to provide realistic virtual systems embedded in an eTextbook environment that could help build students’ physical intuition. Since students may wish to interact with simulations in real-time, one of our feasibility tests involved the real-time rendering and simulation of different example cases of fluid flows within a sample eTextbook chapter. The simulation comes with controls the student can use to manipulate key flow parameters to see the response of the flow field to student inputs. Ultimately, the goal is to enable the creation of universal learning tools where the student can selectively use the interactive modules needed to complete said student’s education and physical intuition.
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