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Published on February 5, 2014

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INNOVATIVE E-TRAINING IN BASIC PNEUMATICS TIEH SENG FATT (SDEO/SDC) LOW THIAM CHYE (SDEO/SDC) Abstract: Training or retraining of adult workers in pneumatic circuitry using the transparencies or PowerPoint slides during lessons has never been easy due to the age and the educational level of the trainees. Surveys carried out on the students’ learning experience confirmed that majority of them felt that pneumatics is the toughest subject they encountered. A well-designed e-Training courseware, when uploaded to the Internet, will definitely benefit a lot of people who are interested in the subject. The students showed much interest in the animations created with Flash. They were able to understand with ease how pneumatic valves function and were faster in learning. Through analysis, it was discovered that these web-based educational aids definitely benefit the students, and also serve as a supplement to traditional classroombased educational methods. INTRODUCTION This project aims to help adult course participants under the Skills Redevelopment Programme (SRP) who are studying the NTC-3 Mechanical Servicing in Bukit Merah Skills Development Centre (BMSDC). The course participants gave feedback that Module-4 which consists of Basic Pneumatics is the most difficult module to understand as compared to the three other modules. The main reason is that the participants in the centre complete the course within a shorter period as compared to the full-time students in other ITE campuses. Due to lower educational level and time constraints, the main difficulty is visualising the movements within the pneumatic valves. This difficulty can be resolved by developing a courseware with interactive animation. This will definitely benefit a lot of people who are interested in this module. With the Macromedia Flash, animations were created. The movements of valves, cylinders, compressor, pressurised lines in the circuitry can be seen with the interaction of the learners. This had made the web page fun and interesting. These web-based educational aids benefited participants, and also served as a supplement to traditional classroom-based educational methods. The Objectives of the e-Training for Basic Pneumatics are: • To complement the lectures and help the students to visualise the movement of pneumatic components and cylinder in a circuitry. • To cultivate students’ interest in the pneumatics module. • To allow students to learn at their own pace, anytime, anywhere. ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 1

MATERIAL AND METHODS As a trainer myself in the training centre, I find it difficult to show the students how a valve moves internally. Transparencies and PowerPoint presentations were used during the lecture but the result needed improvement. It improved slightly with the aid of videos, but the result achieved was still far from significant. Survey results revealed that creating interactive animated pneumatic valves and circuitry would enhance the students’ interest and improve visualisation. Macromedia Flash 4.0 was used to transform the pneumatic components and circuitry from the texts into animated flash clips. Tutorials were created using Macromedia Authorware 5.0. Finally, Macromedia Dreamweaver 4.0 was used to create the web pages that were linked to the animations and tutorials. Other software like i-Photo Plus was used to design the background graphics that were used in the web pages. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION This e-Training web page was designed using the hierarchical method and provision was given to all pages with paths linked to homepage. The flowchart in Figure 1 shows a summary of the e-Training web page’s structure. Web pages in the flowchart are shown in rectangular boxes. The sidemenu and horizontal-menu-bar in the web pages are represented by the larger shaded rectangular boxes while the tail end of the solid line is the title of each page. Flash Movie e-Training Home Page Level 1 Basic Pneumatics Tutorials Feedback Contact US Air Service Unit Pneumatic Principles Symbols Cascade Design Examples Directional Control Valve Flow Control Valve Pressure Control Valve Double Acting Multipositions Tandem Resources Level 2 PowerPoint Videos Valves Circuitry Level 2 Cylinders Level 3 Level 3 Level 3 Single Acting Homepage Impact Figure 1: Flowchart The homepage (Figure 2) gives a short introduction to the e-Training web page. It has five categories that can be accessed from the side menu. The main category is Basic Pneumatics while the four other pages are Resources, Tutorials, Feedback and Contact Us. Figure 2: Homepage ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 2

Basic Pneumatics This is a major page that consists of animations to help explain pneumatics. Students learn pneumatics with the explanatory notes and interactive buttons. There are five topics that can be accessed by the links provided on the side menu (Figure 3). The topics covered are Pneumatic Principles, Air Service Unit, Valves, Cylinders and Circuitry. Most of the explanations on pneumatics are linked through this page that explains the principles of compressed air, functions of Figure 3: Basic Pneumatics cylinders, operation of valves and examples in circuitry with animations created by Flash. Pneumatic Principles This page shows a diagram of air compressor. Animation showing the movement of a single stage compressor unit will appear when the label ‘Compressor Unit’ is clicked (Figure 4). The names for the other part of the compressor will also appear when the cursor is moved over the said areas. Air Service Unit This page explains the functions of air service unit that consist of air Figure 4: Pneumatic Principles filter, pressure regulator and oil-mist lubricator. The users can click on the image of the pressure regulator to see the animation of how a pressure regulator works. Instructions are provided in the animation informing the users how the pressure is being regulated. Valves This page shows the different types of valves that are commonly used in pneumatic system. There are three classifications of valves shown on the side menu. Click on any of the links will bring the users to the next level. The types of directional control valves are 3/2 and 5/2 way valves. Flow control valve consists of ‘Check’, ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ valves. Interactive animations show the movement of the respective pneumatic components upon activating the push button. Airflow movement into the valves will be seen with instructions to guide the users. They can click on any of the buttons ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 3

and in any sequence. The result will be shown immediately and explained with texts below the animation. Example: Accessing the ‘AND’ valve When the ‘AND’ valve is clicked from the side menu of ‘Valves’ page. A sectional view showing the spool appears (Figure 5a). P1 and P2 indicate push button for incoming pressure. A is the outlet port of the valve. All arrow signs are shown to help users visualise the possible airflow direction. An ‘AND’ valve requires both inputs P1 and P2 activated for compressed air to the outlet A. The user needs to activate either P1 or P2 to see the result. Figure 5a: AND valve When the left button P1 is depressed as shown in Figure 5b, compressed air from P1 is blocked by the spool. No air will flow to the outlet. Users need to activate either P1 or P2 to see the subsequent result. Figure 5b:Left button was depressed, no air flow If users choose to depress the right button P2, the spool is already locked in position by compressed air from P1. Hence the passage to the outlet is open and allow airflow from P2 to the outlet A (Figure 5c). The buttons can be depressed in any sequences, whenever there is only one or no button being depressed. No air will flow to the outlet. ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 Figure 5c:Both buttons P1 and P2 were 4 depressed.

Cylinders This page shows the different types of pneumatic cylinders. The common types are single acting and double acting cylinders. Circuitry This page is linked to level 3 that consists of three topics, Symbols, Cascade Design and Examples. In the ‘Symbols’ page, the commonly used components for the circuitry are shown. The user can click on the links to launch an interactive animation (Figure 6). The ‘Cascade Design’ page shows the methods used to design pneumatic circuitry, and the Examples’ page shows pneumatic circuitry. Different stages of the simulations accompanied with instructions will guide users through the exercises. All pressurised air-lines are shown in red colour and non-pressurised lines in black. In the circuitry, the users can depress the single cycle start button to see the cylinders move in one complete cycle and stop, or depress the auto cycle start button to see the cylinders’ movement continuously until the stop button is depressed (Figure 7). The users may also click on the step button provided to see the movements of the piston step by step. Figure 6: Symbol page –Interactive animation was shown when 3/2 way valve was clicked Figure 7: Circuitry – Auto Cycle ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 5

Resources The ‘Resources’ page contain short video clips (Figures 8) and PowerPoint presentations to help students in their quick tour of the whole topic on Pneumatics. The ‘Resources’ page served as supplementary notes to the students. They can download the presentations or they may just open them from the same location. This page will be updated regularly. Students are encouraged to access this page for new updates. The advantage of having these notes electronically is that the information is always the latest revised copy. The PowerPoint is presented with the salient points summarised for quick browsing by the users. Figure 8: Video clip Tutorials Students can conduct a self-evaluation by attempting the tutorials in the form of a quiz (Figure 9a). The multiple-choice questions with one correct answer each were created using Macromedia Authorware. Students could take the test any time while accessing the web page. Five to ten questions depending on the quiz they select will be presented one by one (Figure 9b). The students need to select their answer and record it to confirm their answer. The selected answer is judged immediately after being recorded and the correct answer will be shown before the next question is presented. The overall result will be shown at the end of the quiz (Figure 9c). Figure 9a: Tutorial - Quiz Figure 9b: Tutorial - Quiz ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 6

Feedback Figure 9c: Quiz 1 – Test result The feedback will serve to improve the web page. Students are required to tick in the box indicating whether they “agree” or “disagree” to each of the statement. Contact Us This provides a means of communication between the students and the trainers for more feedback. Help This Help feature was added to the e-Training web page to enhance user friendliness. This helps first-timers understand the web pages’ features. CONCLUSION The e-Training courseware in Basic Pneumatics was used during lessons. The positive feedback from the trainers is that the courseware is easy to use, transparencies are not required anymore when lecturing topics in pneumatics, and the movement of the valves can be explained clearly with the aids of animations. The students showed interest in the interactive animations and would like to try out and explore themselves. So the courseware was downloaded to all the computers in the computer labs for students’ hands-on and the feedback from them has been positive. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank our supervisor Mr Fong Ah Ngow for his invaluable guidance and advice. We would also like to thank Mr Peter Peh of Bosch Rexroth Pte Ltd for granting us the permission to use a few of the video clips. Last but not least, our sincere thanks to the trainers and students of Bukit Merah Skills Development Centre (BMSDC) for providing invaluable feedback after using the e-Training courseware. ITE TEACHERS’ CONFERENCE 2002 7

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