June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.173.1 - 15.173.13
An Outline of eDesign Abstract
This paper discusses the relevance of distance learning to the engineering design education. Some key characteristics of design pedagogy seem to fall beyond the scope of current content- based eLearning solutions, including contextual social and collaborative interaction and iterative experimentation. Consequently, an effective eLearning solution for design pedagogy must bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds by establishing a virtual collaborative community and providing students with remote access to software and hardware resources. The paper outlines a comprehensive architecture of the eDesign portal that integrates the traditional courseware technology with remotely-accessible hardware-in-the-loop simulation, eCollaboration, and virtual classroom and learning community. The required hardware and software for implementing the eDesign architecture are detailed, and a preliminary assessment of using the eDesign portal for a second-year design course is discussed.
The industry has shown clear interest in harmonizing technological expertise amongst various societies, which further facilitates outsourcing resources. In the current engineering world, design of complex systems involves multiple disciplines and hence a diverse assembly of engineers and facilities that are not necessarily placed at the same geographical location. Consequently, the notion of global virtual design teams1, as a distributed collection of people and resources, integrated across geographical, cultural and functional borders, is becoming increasingly appealing. In response, the newly-revised engineering curricula have begun to recognize the need for the diversity of scope, expertise, and even resources in the engineering education. A multifaceted curriculum aims at training engineers who can work at multinational corporations in teams composed of a wide range of expertise and technical and cultural background. Therefore, the formation of inter-discipline, inter-university engineering programs has changed course from wishful thinking to serious planning, thanks to the rapid advancement of web-based education, usually labeled as eLearning.
The notion of eLearning as an evolution of Computer-Based Training (CBT) was initially promoted by the corporate world2. The academia, however, quickly recognized the potential of eLearning as a complementary means of content delivery, and hence began to integrate it into the traditional curricula, heuristically3 and systematically4. Whereas corporations have diverged from the original notion into eCollaboration as a tool for increasing project efficiency and improving employee productivity, universities continued focusing on the content-delivery and administration aspects of eLearning.
Despite the growing popularity of web-based content delivery in academic programs, the relevance of eLearning to the revised engineering curriculum, incorporating hands-on design activities as essential components5, is constantly challenged, due to the two key features of engineering design pedagogy6,7:
a. a vast portion of design knowledge is contextual and can only be learned through the senses
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