June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.285.1 - 14.285.6
Blending Online Learning with a Traditional Course Christi L. Patton The University of Tulsa
As class sizes in a chemical engineering problem solving class outgrew the available rooms and one teacher’s ability to maintain a personal relationship with students and to safely manage hands-on design projects, a new class management philosophy was needed. Two credit-hours of this three-credit-hour course were conducted electronically while students met in a classroom in a group of 10 – 12 students for the remaining one-hour-per-week lecture. Blackboard Learning System – Vista Enterprise was used to post video lectures, manage quizzes and homework assignments.
This paper looks at the effectiveness of this blending of online learning with traditional lecture and hands-on activities after two years of implantation. In particular, the paper will examine the details of course management and highlight what did and did not work in terms of student learning and student retention. Advantages and disadvantages to both the instructor and the student will be presented.
Finally, this paper will examine how this new approach created the opportunity to add an independent study variation on this course. This online-only course has proven beneficial for several students who transferred into the chemical engineering program after the first year and requires very little extra workload for faculty.
Degrees conferred from chemical engineering programs across the U.S. declined 34% between 1997 and 20061 and The University of Tulsa (TU) has mirrored this trend. This same period of time saw significant changes in the technology infrastructure at TU in the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Every classroom was equipped with a computer console and display for instruction. All engineering departments established computer laboratories for their students in addition to the numerous facilities available to all students. WiFi was installed campus-wide. Two instructional laboratories were created with computers for 20 or 30 students.
In 2007 and 2008, the public watched the price for a barrel of oil rise to unprecedented levels. Salaries for engineers prepared to work in the petroleum industry sky-rocketed. Even as the economy foundered and the price of oil plummeted in the fall of 2008 major oil companies continued to make offers to graduating seniors. At TU, the enrollment of new students in petroleum-related fields is on the rise. The chemical engineering department has benefitted from this, with enrollment of new students in the ChE program increasing nearly 70% from 2006 to 2008. While increasing enrollments are good for the university, they have also created a host of new problems relating to space and equipment limitations. Classrooms are at capacity during the most popular time slots. The computer instructional laboratories can no longer accommodate a
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