skill/experience oriented transitions inbetween objective and abstract models for vocational education

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Several simulation projects in industrial production and logistics indicated, that despite of the availability of computer supported modelling systems with sophisticated graphical output features, real physical models still play an important role for cognition and communication. A central focus of our studies at the artec Research Centre for Work and Technology aims at the combination of these two model worlds, keeping and using the advantages of both kinds of representation. In order to connect reality with a computer model, a data glove is used as an interface device. It captures hand movements of users and allows the recognition of reality changes, simultaneously updating the virtual model. This way an abstract internal computer model ist created by modelling with physical blocks. The virtual model can further be used for systematic simulations. The figures show our work with this new Real Reality Graspable User Interface.

In vocational education books, experimental workbenches and learning software (simulators, multimedia, hypertext) have been used. These media have little links, a mental effort of abstraction is necessary for coupling knowledge. Learning only with virtual media leaves out the concrete handling and experience of physical phenomena (pressure ..) which is important for practical work. Groupwork is often also handicapped, when people need to focus on small monitors. The aproach followed by artec can be used to develop new kinds of learning tools, keeping the focus on real-life applications and augmenting them with the analogue virtual models. The latter can be used for simulation, 'dry' experimenting, investigation of not-visible processes, or as online-help.

Grasping Real and Virtual Reality

Grasping real objects with a dataglove is recorded and recognised by pattern recognission algorithms yielding to a synchronised update of the virtual world.


A particular application of this new concept is the creation of pneumatic control circuits. All activites are applied on real pneumatic components and recorded by the computer via datagloves. The synchronous generation of a virtual model may help to detect errors in structure and behavior. The virtual model can also be used for more complex simulation, for investigation of hiden (inside closed bodies) or too-fast-to-watch processes. This kind of modeling may improve the learning process in vocational training of automation.

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For further information contact: Eva Hornecker or Bernd Robben