4-VA Initiatives

A Circuitous Route in Materials Development for ECE 385

While interest in Open Educational Resources is expanding exponentially, sometimes the search results come up short.  This was clearly evidenced by the OER research undertaken by Dr. Nathalia Peixoto for her ECE 385 course. Electric Circuit Analysis I is a complex course with many different attributes, covering the first half of electric circuit theory and practice.  Topics include analyses of circuits with resistors, capacitors, inductors, and operational amplifiers; all supplemented with lab experiments to reinforce the subject matter.  As Peixoto looked for suitable written resources, she found they did not meet the needs of her course.

Peixoto’s research then took a hard turn.  While she couldn’t identify any written sources, she did find videos of lectures and presentations – primarily on YouTube – that more directly addressed the subject topics.  So, she began down the video road, compiling four pages of links to 66 different videos of nodal and mesh analysis, operational amplifiers, capacitors and inductors as well as first order and second order circuits, and more.  In the end, the free video series she curated served as an adaptable substitute for the textbook, which sold for $300.  With 100 students taking the course each year, it resulted in a total savings of $30,000.

Although Peixoto’s proposal to provide free, engaging and enlightening written materials for her students in ECE 385 did come to fruition, the mode employed was not what she had anticipated.  She offers some perspective on her journey, noting that the 4-VA grant, “helped me move forward helping out students.”  Peixoto plans to develop her course notes to share with the wider Mason faculty and more fully test the course materials.