COAST is seeking an alternative cheaper system for offering science and technology students the all-important benefits of laboratory (lab) practicals. The project uses mathematical models and multimedia material in an authoring package for simulation-based practicals suitable for delivery on the Internet (see KAMP). It will be piloted on practical work in electronics at three sites by teachers and students of medicine. COAST will be externally evaluated with a view to broader applications, and the definition of practicals-related copyright agreements will also be closely considered.
In most educational institutions involved in scientific training, the delivery of good quality practicals is now impeded by cost and/or practicality constraints. However praticals are compulsory to a good scientific and training curriculum. The main objective of the COAST project - COurseware Authoring for Scientific Training - is to provide scientists with new technological and cost-effective means, more specifically based on multimedia simulation, to prepare their material so as to gradually replace lab practicals that are getting more and more expensive, and to improve their student's understanding of complex systems.
Technological development will mainly concern the design and development of an authoring package for simulation based practicals in scientific and technical education. On the basis of existing mathematical models, an author (who is a domain's specialist but not a simulation modeller) can prepare simulation environments, the scenarios of practicals and their didactic components, and integrate multimedia material.
The practicals thus developed can be delivered to tutors and students in universities through Internet. Another project, called KAMP, will supply telematics services for managing and distributing computer based practicals among tutors and students.
Pilot sites are located at Three universities. The Users consist of professors and students of medical institutions for pre-clinic education Staff from those universities will first use the authoring tools for developing electronic practicals. Training sessions will be set up for some students - more than one hundred students over the three sites - at the pilot sites where they will run the practicals already developed. A CD-ROM demonstrator will be delivered at the end of the project. It will offer an overview of the COAST functionality, excerpts of the simulation libraries and of the bio-medical pre-clinic practicals, and walkthroughs authoring and training sessions.
Moreover, in order to broaden the application field to other educational domains, an external evaluation activity will also be performed by an Observation Team led by an engineering school. Their activity will be to test the COAST system and to provide a set of recommendations to widen its scope.
The exploitation of COAST results will cover the definition of copyright agreements, between the universities involved in the validation activity, for the electronic practicals developed during the project, and the definition of a global exploitation plan for the COAST Authoring Package.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
SE1 9RT London