Using the Instructor Tool

Learn HVAC is Actively Under Development! There are a number of features with the Web App that are not fully functional and/or soon to be changed.

Please bear with use during this transition. If your need is not urgent, please check back in a week or two. If it is urgent, feel free to call or email Superb; our contact info is on the About page.

Overview

The Instructor Tool website allows instructors to manage the use of the Learn HVAC within a course and classroom setting and to modify the Learn HVAC learning environment.

Instructors or administrators log into the website to add or update "scenarios." These scenarios are then shown in a list after the student logs into the Learn HVAC client.


The instructor tool also provides functions to manage users (guests, students, instructors, or administrators) and track usage. Finally, administrators can modify the system variables used in the simulation engine that drives the simulations

For more details on scenarios, managing users and other functions available through the instructor site, view the complete documentation >>

Or, to see the site in action, go to the instructor site now>>
The site is password-protected so you will need to create an account to have access.


Setting Up Your Own Server

Learn HVAC uses a client-server relationship. You may use our Learn HVAC server to store and modify your scensaios, or your college or organization can set up the Instructor Web App on your own servers.

Setting up a server to run the Instructor Web App is a somewhat involved process. We are planning to release documentation and helper tools to make this process as easy as possible. However, the process will still involve a basic understanding of UNIX servers, Ruby on Rails, and MySQL. Alternatively, alpha testers can contact us to have users set up on the existing alpha-version site.

Once an Instructor Web App is set up, the default administrator password should be changed. This administrator should then create Instructor and Student users. Instructors should then login and create Scenarios for students to use.

Editing Scenarios

A scenario is a group of settings that customizes Learn HVAC. An instructor can create and modify scenarios on the Instructor Web App. The Scenarios are then available for download within the Learner Application.

The Scenario section of the Instructor Tool has the following functions:

  • View a list of scenarios
  • View a scenario's details
  • Editing an existing scenario
  • Creating a new scenario from an existing one
  • Creating a new scenario from scratch
  • Deleting an existing scenario


A scenario is composed of a complete set of System Variables, each of which can be customized. It also has some meta-data such as name, description, location of an explanatory movie (if one exists) and so on.

When creating or editing a scenario, the main task is to set the low, default and high values for each input variable. These values restrict what the student can enter into each input variable when running the simulation. Essentially, by controlling the default values for a group a input variables, the instructor can create a certain HVAC situation for the student to experiment with.

But can't the user change input values before they start the simulation? Well, yes, but only if you let them. By using "Visible" and "Enabled" checkboxes, you can further tailor your scenario for a certain learning task by selectively hiding information and/or disallowing changes.

This feature was included to allow the instructor greater flexibility in creating certain learning situations. The instructor may want to create a Scenario where the student is asked to find out what's wrong with the system with only a few variables to analyze.

System Variables

System Variables are the variables that drive the Modelica simulation. There are approximately 230 of them, and each has it's own set of meta-data, including a simple description, low and high values, default value and so on. Some of this meta-data is directly displayed to the user -- the description, for example, is displayed when the user rolls over the small yello question mark icon next to an input variable. Other meta-data is used behind the scenes, such as the conversion factor from SI to IP.

System variable editing screen shot

System Variable information is sensitive and setting the values incorrrectly can cause Modelica to crash or behave erratically. Therefore, only administrators have the ability to edit System Variable information. Instructors can only view this information.

Managing Users

Whether using our servers or your own, all instructors can use a browser to navigate to the Instructor Web App website and then log in.

Once logged in, the instructor can manage who has access to their scenarios and invite students to join their classes.



Once the student has an invite, the student can access scenarios created and run them on the Learn HVAC Learner Appor identified by an instructor.

Directory

There is also a Directory of users and institutions. This directory allows you to connect to others using Learn HVAC, view their shared scenarios, and learn how other instructors are using Learn HVAC as a teaching tool.