In an effort to combine classroom and laboratory learning strategies, I have been implementing techniques which bridge the gap between theory and practice. One way I have done this is by designing, building, and incorporating a custom live demonstration tool, referred to as the DemoStation (combination of “demonstration” and “station”). This is a technology I use to make it easier for students to see the live demonstration, and I also record demonstrations and post the content online for students to review later. An example of this setup for a lathe demonstration is shown below. In tight areas where direct visibility is difficult for students, especially in courses running 20+ enrollment, this tool allows each student to see the finer details of control and technique.
To further improve the function of this instructional tool, I have added a small touchscreen laptop computer so that content from the internet or lecture material can be incorporated real time during a demonstration. This actually allows for a whole lesson to be complemented by equipment demonstration if desired. This classroom-laboratory crossover may enable a combined learning experience not deliverable by other means.
Another new teaching method I am implementing is a rolling CNC. To bring CNC programming to life in class, I integrated a small CNC mill with a rolling cart that can be transferred to any room. The cart has everything needed to program and operate the mill. All that needs to be done is to plug in one, main electric cord (110V). I have been using this to introduce CNC in ITEC 281 (Metallic Materials) and in ITEC 382 (Automated Manufacturing) for running student programs and verifying code. A further benefit is that the software end of the programming can be integrated into the classroom projector (just as a laptop can be) and the entire class can see the coding directly on the large screen. This cart is shown below.
Funding for creating and outfitting the DemoStation was provided in two rounds from the Center for Academic Excellence at Millersville University.