As an Adjunct Professor, I have found that Innoslate® is a great tool for teaching systems engineering. First, it’s free academic version automatically upgrades students with a “.edu” account to the Academic version, which is the same as the Professional version, but limited to 2,000 entities per project. This limit has not been encountered by most students.
Second, the lack of having to download and install software makes getting started very easy. With other software, students spend a significant amount of time just getting the software to work. Often they have to get a special license file as well, causing more problems. Innoslate is available on any platform (PC, Macintosh, iPad) with any modern browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10+).
Third, Innoslate provides tremendous on-line documentation and built-in help features. These features include rollovers (to add words of explanation to icons and terms), a “Getting Started” panel, overlays when you first start the program, etc. These features mean most students don’t need much, if any, training in using the tool. SPEC Innovations, the maker of Innoslate, also has customer support open to professors and students alike. They also will provide introductory demos to classes via web conferencing upon request.
Fourth, collaboration! When working on group projects, students can all work within the same project through the sharing feature. They can interact with each other this way, each contributing different parts of the solution. They can also share the project with the professor (read only mode is recommended). The professor can then review the project and add Comments (through the comments tab in most views throughout the tool). The professor can also see who worked on what through the notifications panel and history. Another collaboration feature is “Cross View Collaboration.” This feature tells you who else is looking at the objects you are interested in, no matter what view they are in!
Finally, Innoslate uses diagrams from many different languages: IDEF, SysML, and LML. All the SysML diagrams have been includes, but there are also many other diagrams, such as the N2 and I2 charts, radar diagrams, class diagrams, risk matrix, timeline, etc. that the professor and the the students can work however they want to and see results automatically in another diagram. For example, you can teach how to develop a SysML Activity Diagram and then see it as an Action Diagram, an IDEF0, or a Sequence Diagram, all with a simple menu selection.
I highly recommend using Innoslate in your classroom. Both students and professors gain a valuable capability at no cost! It’s a win-win for everyone.
Sign up for Innoslate Academic here. Remember to use your .edu email address.