New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Recent increases in engineering enrollments have spurred interest in developing course structures that can increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of course delivery. This need is particularly acute in project and lab-based courses. One potential model is to convert the traditional learning environment to an internet-based e-learning system. Such an e-learning system can be structured to be essentially independent of class-size, time, and geographic location.
In the project described here, a beginning multidisciplinary engineering course, the e-learning concept was applied to “Engineering Computer Programming” (ENGR 1412), a 2-credit course, with a lecture session to introduce programming and engineering concepts, and a lab session to give hands on experience for programming to the students. Help sessions were conducted by Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) to assist students on projects, quizzes, and exams. The course projects were designed to introduce principles from various engineering disciplines to the students. Every problem in the course project focused on a specific component of the engineering design cycle, such as researching, modeling, implementing, measuring, and communicating. Herein, we address the transition of a project-based course, ENGR 1412, from traditional methods to internet based e-learning systems, where lectures and lab sessions are video recorded, and exams, assignments and help sessions are handled online. This transition was done in step-by-step fashion in order to gauge student response and performance in incremental fashion. We also address the challenges faced during the transition of this course, recommendations to overcome those challenges, and suggestions on how to implement a distance education program for any project-based course.
Exam scores and student surveys were used to evaluate the effectiveness of this internet-based e-learning system. The transition from paper-based examinations to online examinations has increased the class average on exams by 6% for a class of 310 students. Further, the students have taken surveys twice during the course, and both the midterm and final course evaluations favored the online exams and video lectures. In particular, students found the video lectures to be extremely helpful, as they can review the lecture content, as needed, to understand the concepts.
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