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Enhancing Learning for Distance Students in an Undergraduate Engineering Course through Real-time Web-Conferencing

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2014 ASEE International Forum


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session 1

Tagged Topic

Curriculum and Lab Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

20.18.1 - 20.18.11



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Paper Authors


John Matthew Long Deakin University

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Dr. John M. Long completed his undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Michigan (Flint) in 1987, while working as an analytical chemist at AC Spark Plug, General Motors Corporation. In 1995 he completed a PhD in physics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Since then he has worked in the School of Engineering at Deakin University, where he teaches physics, materials, and electronics.

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Simon William Cavenett Deakin University

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Simon Cavenett is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Professional Practice (Engineering) at the School of Engineering at Deakin University. Prior to joining Deakin University in 2007 his 20 year career was based in industry. His career includes a number of significant achievements both in Australia and internationally, particularly involving the design and implementation of leading edge telecommunications and IT technologies. Simon has extensive experience internationally; having worked professionally based the United States for over 11 years prior to returning to Australia to join Deakin University.

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Eloise Gordon Deakin University


Matthew Joordens Deakin University

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Matthew A. Joordens (Member -IEEE, Fellow - The Institution of Engineers Australia, Mensa member) began his career with Industrial Control Technology designing control systems to automate various different industrial processes. For 5 years he designed microprocessor based control systems for companies such as Ford, Pilkington Glass, Webtek and Blue Circle Southern Cement. He then moved to Deakin University and wrote their first electronics units. Using his industrial experience he designed one of the first Australian Engineering degrees in Mechatronics that still runs at Deakin. He currently lectures units in Digital electronics, Microcontrollers, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. His research areas are in Engineering Education and Robotics.

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Enhancing Learning for Distance Students in an Undergraduate Engineering Course through Real-time Web-ConferencingIn recent years there has been an increasing interest in delivering engineering courses throughnon-traditional means, such as by distance, on-line, flexible, and combinations/blends oflocated and on-line learning environments. [1-3]. Distance education is now an acceptedmeans by which tertiary education can be delivered to non-traditional students, who for manyreasons are unable to attend regular on-campus classes [4]. An increasing number ofuniversities are trialling distance education as a means to reach more students outside oftraditional cohorts. For many years, Deakin University in Australia has delivered a fully-accredited undergraduate engineering program in both on-campus and off-campus modes,with majors that include mechanical, electrical, mechatronics, and civil engineering [5].Isolation, lack of real-time contact with teaching staff, and lack of access to laboratories arethree of the most significant challenges faced by distance students. However, moderncommunication technologies are making significant contributions towards alleviating theseproblems. Web-conferencing tools may be a means whereby tutorials or small class sessionscan be delivered efficiently and in real time to groups of off-campus students [6].In this paper, we present our efforts to use the web-conferencing software Elluminate-Live![7] for delivering tutorials, discussion classes, and even laboratory practicals to groups ofstudents studying engineering off-campus. We will give examples from each of our majordisciplines, comparing student feedback and grades over the years 2012-2013, focusing onsubjects delivered over the summer semester. Our results show that students welcome web-conferencing as an effective means to deliver classes to distance students and improve theirlearning experience.1. Anastasiadis, P., and Metaxas, G. (2006). “Issues of importance in engineering education and distance learning,” World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, 5(3), 393-396.2. Dickrell, D. (2012). “Applying Distance Education Technologies to a Large-Scale Engineering Mechanics Course,” 119th American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference Proceedings (San Antonio), session T518.3. Krute, L. (2012). “Distance Education Partnerships,” 119th American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference Proceedings, session M614.4. Cleveland-Innes, M.F., and Garrison, D.R. editors (2010). An Introduction to Distance Education: Understanding Teaching and Learning in a New Era (New York: Routledge).5. Long, J.M. and Baskaran, K. (2004). “Engineering Education Down Under: Distance Teaching at Deakin University, Australia,” 2004 Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education Proceedings (Salt Lake City), session 2160.6. Gordon, E., Joordens, M., Stojcevski, A. (2013). “Effective technology to support cooperative learning in a virtual learning environment,” Proceedings of the 2013 Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference, editors C. Lemckert, G. Jenkins, and S. Lang-Lemckert (Gold Coast, Australia), 8-11 December.7. Elluminate Live!, (2009), “The Impact of Synchronous Online Learning on Academic Institutions: Customer Experiences from K-12 and Higher Education”, white paper, see .

Long, J. M., & Cavenett, S. W., & Gordon, E., & Joordens, M. (2014, June), Enhancing Learning for Distance Students in an Undergraduate Engineering Course through Real-time Web-Conferencing Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--17181

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