June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.284.1 - 14.284.8
Blended Learning to Enhance Computer Application Instruction Abstract
The University of Delaware’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (UD-CEE) curriculum has a required Freshman Design Class that includes a Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) lab. Due to growth in enrollment, the class has to accommodate approximately 100 students. To effectively teach CAD in computer classrooms, class sizes need to be limited. In order to provide adequate and efficient instruction to this large number of students, the spring of 2008 course instructor utilized blended learning, an approach that uses a mix of traditional classroom teaching and online training. In this case, the blended learning took the form of computer classroom lectures enhanced with online OnDemand eLearning modules.
The class was divided into small lab sections that met every other week. During the bi-weekly meeting, the lab instructor presented interactive lectures on fundamental CAD principles. The classroom enables students to work along with the instructor on a computer. During the time between lectures, the students were given OnDemand eLearning assignments using Bentley Systems, Inc. LEARN Server. Bentley LEARN allows students to access self-paced, OnDemand modules—any time and from any location—that include instruction, demonstrations, and on-line evaluation. These same online courses are utilized by employers around the world to train their employees, so students are learning technology skills prized by future employers. Bentley LEARN also tracks students’ progress individually and generates a learning transcript for students reflecting what they complete.
By the end of the semester, even though the students had attended only six lab lectures, they were able to complete a full semester’s worth of material by utilizing the concept of blended learning. The tracking and evaluation of student progress was facilitated by the use of Bentley’s on-line tracking and transcript generation system. Compared to the previous year, when OnDemand eLearning was not utilized, the improvement in student learning and progress was significant. Due to the success of this novel instructional technology, it is being considered for implementation in other classes as well. This paper provides details of the OnDemand eLearning environment, how it was integrated into the Freshman Design course curriculum, and the lessons learned during its implementation.
Large classes that involve the teaching of computer skills, such as computer-aided drafting, can be a challenge to teach effectively. It is essential that such classes are taught in computer- equipped classrooms where students can engage in hands-on learning. Due to growth in enrollment, freshman CAD classes can often be quite large. Computer classrooms are typically limited in size and availability; therefore, efficient methods of instruction are needed. At the University of Delaware, the solution that has been employed is the use of blended learning (an approach that uses a mix of traditional classroom teaching and online training). At Delaware, the blended learning took the form of computer classroom lectures enhanced with online OnDemand eLearning modules.
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