This site provides topical coverage of essentially all the topics found in introductory courses in electricity and magnetism.
Target Student Population:
Lower level undergraduate. Calculus is used.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Previous or concurrent course in Electricity and Magnetism.
Type of Material:
Tutorial and Reference material.
Evaluation and Observation
This site covers all of the standard topics in electricity and magnetism, and shows the relations between them. The presentation is clear, with simple diagrams used to help explain the content. The navigation through the topics uses links between concepts and concept maps.
At the top level is a map of the major topics, both theoretical and physical. Many of these top-level concepts have their own concept map showing relations between more specific information. The inclusion of materials on applications of the physics is a great benefit.
A glossary and extensive set of references round out the content on the site. The connections with other physics topics are very useful as well.
The descriptions and explanations of the physics tend to be short, matching the outline nature of the project. This probably will not be sufficient as the sole reference source for students.
In building the analogy between circuits and fluid flow, the author relates voltage (electrostatic potential) in the circuit to pressure in the fluid, two rather different physical quantities. The issues of kinetic energy and non-compressibility of the fluid are also not included in this discussion.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The ability that this site gives students to explore topics through hyperlinks is its greatest power. This allows them the freedom to visit the topics that they do not understand.
Links to this resource can provide students tips and hints in online readings and homework. This will save instructors a great deal of time in building their own glossary.
The "calculators", that allow students to enter values into standard equations to compute results, will help students who are having trouble with some of the algebra necessary in calculations.
Because it is mostly text, students may not explore all aspects of the material. The interactivity with the site might not be enough to interest students who do not learn well from just words.
Students must be helped to understand the importance of the connections used in this site and internalize them.
Instructors should be aware that the "calculators" may help students solve problems using naive problem-solving techniques. These tools may over-emphasize the importance of the equations. This can be avoided with careful use.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The layout of this site is very well thought out, and an important strength of this resource. The use of maps and connections to link students to topics is a powerful approach to helping them learn.
Although quite intuitive, students should be given some pointers on navigation on the site. Because some links in E&M are to materials in other topics, students will need to be shown ways to navigate back to where they started. The ubiquitous "Go Back" and "Index" links make this simple.
Other Issues and Comments:
The Hyper-Physics site will be an excellent supplemental resource for many physics classes.