Menu

Digital Electronics Virtual Lab

This work introduces the use of interactive animations in a blended learning approach for a digital electronics course.  These interactive animations help students in the concepts acquisition, thanks to their visual and interactive features. The designed animations include all kind of logic gates (e.g., OR, AND, NOR; NAND, EXOR), Boole’s algebra, many combinational and sequential circuits (e.g., coders, decoders, multiplexors, demultiplexors, comparators, synchronous and asynchronous flip-flops, chronograms, synchronous and asynchronous counters, and shift registries).

These interactive animations have been designed as isolated and autonomous elements that have been reused in different educative resources, such as theory descriptions, examples, exercises and solved exams. Thus, the resources developed, e.g., a comparator circuit, are reused in different learning materials by embedding these objects in theory explanations, examples, exercises and exams.

These interactive animations have been embedded in many examples, exercises and auto-evaluation exams, which facilitate the understanding of the different concepts. Besides, these interactive animations have been encapsulated as learning objects and included in a learning object repository. Thus, anyone in the Web can search, find and use these digital resources. Finally, these interactive animations have been used in two different environments: high school and distance learning university. A different methodology has been used in each one of these environments to fit its requirements.

Blended learning Methodology

These resources help improving students’ knowledge acquisition because they allow visualizing how the information inside the circuits evolves step by step when some input happens. These resources have been designed for supporting both students’ learning at home and teachers’ lectures in the classroom, so they can be used for both blended and distance learning.

The main objectives of these resources are the followings:

  • To help students gaining a better understanding of the circuits and components of digital electronics.
  • To promote the interest of the students for understanding the way such circuits work.
  • To create attractive and visual resources that fosters students’ engagement.
  • To promote self-learning in the students through self-explicatory theory explanations complemented with examples and exercises.
  • To foster the pedagogic use of the new technologies.

The pedagogic methods used in the experimentation with the High School students followed a blended methodology:

  1. The teacher gives a lecture about the digital electronics theory and shows some examples with the developed resources.
  2. The teacher lets the students to practice in the classroom and to get familiarized with the resources.
  3. The teacher suggests some homework to the students using the resources. Students solve the homework using the resources as support.
  4. The students get totally familiar with the resources so they will use them to study without the necessity of the teacher’s advice.

On the other hand, the resources have been also designed to be used in a Distance Learning University, thus there will not be face-to-face lectures. The resources are enough self-explicatory to allow students to learn the concepts by themselves through the theory explanations provided and complemented with the examples, exercises and exams.

Experimentation

The project has been designed to be implemented in two different environments, i.e., High School and Distance Learning Universities. Thus, although the same tool will be used for both environments, different learning models must be designed to be adapted to the requirements of each environment. The learning model applied in the high school environment will be the following:

  1. Teacher gives a lecture around a particular section of digital electronics using the interactive simulations to explain how the circuits work.
  2. Teacher schedules some minutes of student work in the classroom with the on-line tool. This session helps students get familiar with the tool.
  3. Teacher assigns homework with the tool as support.

The methodology for the distance learning course is mostly focused on student’s autonomous learning. The following steps illustrate this methodology:

  1. Teacher includes theory content and auto-evaluation exercises in the virtual course and put available the on-line tool along with an explanation for its use.
  2. Teacher suggest in the forums to use the on-line tool for better understanding of certain sections of theory.
  3. Students use the interactive objects as a support tool for their own learning at home.

 

Access to Interactive Animations of Digital Electronics