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Applicability of the Discord platform in the advancement of learning in the Introductory to Engineering Design course

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

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August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Frederick Alexander Farah UMD Keystone Program

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Frederick Farah is a Sophomore undergraduate student studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds the position of Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in the Introduction to Engineering Design course, a member of AIAA, WIAA, and is a Peer Mentor Captain for the Science, Technology, and Society Scholars Program at the University of Maryland.

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W. Ethan Eagle University of Maryland

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Dr. Eagle is a professor of practice in engineering and innovation design. His curriculum design for innovation, co-developed by and building on the research of Jeff and Staney DeGraff, was adopted by the University of Michigan 'Certified Professional Innovator' program in 2014, one of the first such certifications in the country. Now a faculty member in the Keysone Program at the University of Maryland, Dr. Eagle's current work is on the integration of diverse perspectives to discover unique engineering design spaces and on the development of multi-disciplinary courses that bring together students of multiple colleges and/or universities to perform design and practice innovation.

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Online communities are quickly growing with the current unprecedented reliance on distance-based learning. It is imperative to understand how to properly structure and utilize an online platform to foster community, education, and inclusion. As far as the University of Maryland is concerned, GroupMe is the dominant platform for student-led, course-related, high occupancy communication. GroupMe serves well, but lacks in formability, creativity, and inclusion. There is a need to form a space where students are comfortable to meet and speak with each other, regardless of their course section or physical location. This work-in-progress (WIP) paper discusses an overview and the initial findings of creating and using a Discord Server for the Introduction to Engineering Design course at the University of Maryland, College Park. The piloted implementation of this discord server occurred over the Fall 2020 semester, including 12 sections and 228 users (teaching assistants, professors, students, and community members). The goal of this server is to build community between students in an environment where online learning prevents in-person conversation and connection between peers. If successful, Discord usage will lessen the communication gap between students. Throughout the semester, we were curious of how students would utilize the platform. This project’s motivation was to ensure that students do not get lost or isolated on “zoom university” and have a constant source for engagement to interact with other students and receive assistance from the teaching faculty. Discord presents the unique ability for role-assignment and the opportunity to vary access depending on assigned roles. This allows for separate sections of the Discord to be dedicated to social or academic resources. Further, within these categories is the opportunity to speak within “Voice” channels or message through “Text” channels. This paper presents a strategy of implementation and structure, results found from a student survey and interviews, faculty impressions of student behavior, and future work for upcoming semesters.

Farah, F. A., & Eagle, W. E. (2021, August), Applicability of the Discord platform in the advancement of learning in the Introductory to Engineering Design course Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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