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Engineering education in the age of Web 2.0 -- Explorations through

Teng Li's picture

Abstract: Web 2.0 refers to a collection of second generation web services, such as blogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, and Really Simple Syndicates (RSS) feeds.  While the first generation web (Web 1.0) is about linking information available online, Web 2.0 emphasizes online collaboration and sharing among people.  These new web services bring up new opportunities to innovate how we conduct research and education. We report the preliminary explorations of engineering education exploiting Web 2.0 services, through iMechanica ( 

Hosted at Harvard University and powered by Drupal, an open-source content management system (CMS), iMechanica provides a platform for researchers, educators and students to experiment with innovative ideas on engineering education.  For example, instructors can post syllabi, lecture notes, as well as slides and videos on iMechanica.  Interested learners can view and study these posts, raise questions and make comments. Quite often an active discussion produces more useful information beyond an original post, and inspires new posts and further discussions.  Furthermore, one can subscribe to these discussions through RSS feeds and is notified whenever a new entry is added to the thread of discussion.  The instructing and learning through iMechanica are not limited within a specific institution or a specific curriculum. Anyone in the world can join such education processes, as either an instructor or a student, or both.  These preliminary explorations of engineering education in the age of Web 2.0 hold the promise to build an online life-long learning environment without boundary.

The above abstract has been accepted by ASME IMECE 2007. The paper has been submitted for review.  We welcome comments and suggestions.

Update (20 Nov. 2007): The presentation slides (both ppt and pdf versions) used in ASME IMECE 2007 have been uploaded. 

Update (6 June 2008): The slides have been embeded below.

SlideShare | View | Upload your own

I also used the following YouTube video in the presentation.  Made by Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of anthropology at Kansas State University, this wonderful video on Web 2.0 has been viewed 3,768,523 times in YouTube since Jan. 2007.   I came across this video via Zhigang's earlier post .



Teng Li's picture

The draft paper was accepted as is on 26 July 2006. 

Reviewer Comments

Reviewer 1:

This is a very interesting concept and can have a significant impact on engineering education (at least in the field of mechanics). However, more people need to become aware of iMechanica.ORG for it to reach its full potential. Having this paper presented and published is one way to let it become more well known. 

Reviewer 2:

Presenting this paper in IMECE2007 is a good venue to publicize I hope this concept extends to other Mechanical Engineering courses, such as, Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer. 


Draft Recommendations/Comments


Good job! 



Zhigang Suo's picture

At the ASME Congress this November, in Seattle, Teng Li gave a presentation on  I missed his presentation becuase I was giving a presentation on delamination at the same time. 

Looking at the fantastic slides of his presentation, we must all feel proud of iMechanica, and of the energetic and thoughtful iMechanicians like Teng.  He placed iMechanica in the broad context of Web 2.0, and focused on the use of iMechanica as a  learning environment.  The slides are truly exciting!  So, please take a look at them.

Teng, could you please tell us about the reaction of your audience?  Also, it would be great if you can post a ppt file of your talk, so that other people can use your slides in their talks.  For example, Pradeep and Michelle may want to talk about their experience with jClub.  As another example, many people can include a slide or two in their technical talks to promote iMechanica.

Incidentally, Teng put me as a co-author of the talk, but I did not contribute to the production of these great slides.  He deserves full credit. 

Xiaodong Li's picture

Great! Thanks a lot Teng and Zhigang. I very much like this presentation. I plan to present your slides (with your consent) to my department faculty meeting and the ASME Chapter meeting in South Carolina. I think that we can use this presentation to promote our iMechanica. In this way, I also plan to put iMechanica membership in my self annual evaluation report (like we normally write society membership in our CV).

I think that iMechanica provides a new (novel, innovative) mechanism for us to participate in the mechanics community. See our iMechanica posts - bottom-up, self-assembly...  These are the buzz words that catch up the current and upcoming waves.

Follow up Teng's post, I would like to suggest that we post our ASME slides (if you think it is appropriate) here, this will give you another opportunity to present your stuff at our iMechanica "conference" which reaches much more. The benefits are many folds. 1) you do not have time limit for your talk; 2) you can have in-depth feedback/discussions about your research that may in turn generate new ideas for your future research and new ideas for your proposals; and 3) you can easily find collaborative opportunities to promote your research with "multidisciplinary."  

As we celebrate our new milestone - 4,000 more registered members, I cannot wait for a new, exciting year -2008.

Again, thank you so much for your great efforts!


Teng Li's picture

Thanks Zhigang for the kind words. The talk would not be possible without all the creative explorations of our fellow iMech users.  I've uploaded the powerpoint file of the presentation.  Feel free to use them in any occasion.

I used Mike Wesch's video (now embedded in the original post above) as part of the interpretation of Web 2.0, which seemed interested the audience and also made the second part of the talk on iMechanica easier to digest. Here are some questions (rephrased) from the interactions with the audience:

How are the contents in iMechanica managed? Is there any routine content maintenance (organizing, deleting, etc..)  How to find the contents I'm interested?

How to get students involved in such a platform?

How much is the running cost? How is iMechanica supported?

Will a Wiki-type platform work for iMechanica? 

How much time is needed to manage iMechanica?

Thanks to all those experiences we accummulated together via iMechanica, addressing these questions and comments was indeed enjoyable.

zhan-sheng guo's picture

very interesting I have told my colleague and our students.

some of them very like it

Arun Prakash's picture

The presentation slides and the paper are very good. A few statistics were not known to me.


I have a feeling that imechanica cld become the next 'in' thing.

I've used drupal along with other CMS over the years and since i've found ready made joomla sites with preconfigured modules it's really helped speed up development for customer sites.

I think that many aspects, including its ease-of-use and extensibility, have made Joomla the most popular Web site software available. Best of all, Joomla is an open source solution that is freely available to everyone.  Hiring Wordpress Developer

"The machine is us" of Pr. Mike Wesch was smashing and his laboritory of  anthropology 2.0  very interesting.

This video is a must have . In Paris University René Descartes there 's a "sociologie du web" developped on this problematic . Some features :  (sociologie de l'internet)   ,  (sociology and education 2.0)  

Mike Wesch, but also Bruno LATOUR, Pierre LEVY







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