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Asynchronous Learning In The Small Engineering Classroom

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.85.1 - 1.85.6



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Paper Authors

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Richard Magin

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Margery Osborne

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Bruce Bertram

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Bruce Wheeler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2532

Asynchronous Learning in the Small Engineering Classroom

Bruce Wheeler, Richard Magin, Margery Osborne, and Bertram Bruce University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Two small enrollment engineering courses have been taught using the methodology of the Asynchronous Learning Environment, in which computer networking and conferencing capabilities are used to make student-instructor and student-student interaction more immediate. Included in the effort was the creation of all-electronic assignments, where homework posting, execution, reporting, submission, grading, and return were done with personal computers over the network.

Asynchronous communication is clearly successful in extending office hours, which is especially important for freshmen. However, since the classes were small, critical mass could not be routinely achieved to facilitate intensive interchanges among students and instructors. Instead, it was found that asynchronous technology facilitated groups through exchange of materials as they completed their work and assembled their reports. Homework assignments can be done more efficiently in all-electronic format, provided file size and complexity are not great. Similarly grading of these assignments is easier electronically until monitor screen size curtails the grader’s ability to scan the documents.


Two engineering courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) were taught utilizing Asynchronous Learning technology in order to facilitate interaction among students and instructors. One is a senior electrical engineering and bioengineering elective entitled Modeling of Biological Systems, with an enrollment of 25, in which the conferencing package First Class was used. The other is a freshman elective Introduction to Bioengineering: Focus on Medical Imaging, with an enrollment of 10 for which PacerForum provided conferencing capability.

In both courses students were encouraged to use conferencing software for the discussion of all matters relating to the course. The courses shared a common approach to homework in which a number of computer based exercises were completed, written up, and submitted using a personal computer without the need for hard copy. In both courses students used conferencing software to help them write and edit group term papers.

All-Electronic Homework

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Magin, R., & Osborne, M., & Bertram, B., & Wheeler, B. (1996, June), Asynchronous Learning In The Small Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5893

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