Web Graduate Courses on Benign Urban Water Systems: Optimal Complexity and User Performance Improvement
Nineteen graduate students from various countries participated during Jan-Apr 2000 in a dual graduate course delivered on one web home page. Five professors from four Universities collaborated on this project. The courses (1) urban water pollution control planning and (2) urban storm water management involved learning models, and formed a special asynchronous Internet learning environment. Our experience shows that achievable modeling accuracy depends more on user quality than it does on model structure. An important concern here is that, although it was not measured in this study, model user performance needs to be evaluated objectively and then improved.
This chapter (i) the idea of writing group decision support systems (GDSS) for models of benign urban water systems in such a way that model users "perform better" than they might otherwise do, and (ii) testing the idea in web-based graduate courses. Ideas for the modeling approach reported here were gleaned from experience gained in previous web graduate courses. The courses Urban water pollution control planning and Urban storm water management formed a special asynchronous Internet learning environment (ILE). Asynchronous ILE's may be designed to remove the distinctions between instruction, learning and design (work). Certain pedagogic innovations were implemented, for example several modules focused on attributes supposed to improve model user performance. Web instructional use of a group decision support system (GDSS) for design of benign urban water systems that facilitates demonstrably improved user performance is described. Among other programs and models, a GDSS for the design of benign urban water systems was used. We outline certain attributes of the learning of urban water systems models, including the idea of optimal complexity. PCSWMMGIS includes sensitivity and error analysis, on-line animated tutorials tools, a contextual help system exceeding 60,000 words in size, and an aggregation wizard for optimizing model complexity.
The courses were taught in winter Jan-May 2000, and the object was to become facile at models that analyze and plan urban water systems; in particular, those that estimate flow and pollutant quantities and optimize conveyance, storage and pollutant removal structures required for storm, sanitary and combined sewer collection systems and the management of the impacts of such systems.
The URL (must be entered fully in your browser as one line) for the courses is:
/--/WJ661HOMEPAGE.HTML where "/--/" denotes "HTTP://WWW.EOS.UOGUELPH.CA/WEBFILES/JAMES/HOMEPAGE/TEACHING/661/"
Each of the two courses required six modules (one every two weeks), and each module comprised the work set out in Table 1.
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