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Incorporation of Virtual Learning Environments for Online STEM Activities

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Teaching and Learning in Online Environments

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Stefan Kleinke Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Stefan Kleinke is a full-time faculty member of the College of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide. He currently instructs subject areas that range from aerodynamics and aircraft performance to unmanned system’s operational aspects such as sensing, navigation, and task-oriented optimization. As a former military flight instructor and examiner, he also gained expertise in student pilot and pilot instructor training and its standardization and evaluation. He earned his Master of Aeronautical Science degree with distinction in 2010 and started his doctoral studies in Education in May 2016 with a focus on human learning, training, and behavioral development in technology-mediated environments.

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Brian Sanders Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Dr. Brian Sanders is an Associate Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide. His experience includes basic and applied research in high temperature composite materials for gas turbine engines and hypersonic flight vehicles, multifunctional structures for energy harvesting, and unmanned aircraft system concepts, such as morphing aircraft. His current research focus is on the design and application of virtual environments for engineering curriculum.

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Mark Douglas Miller Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Dr. Mark Miller Ed. D. graduated from the United States Naval Academy “Class of 1986” with a Bachelors Degree in the Physical Sciences. During his time at the Naval Academy he lettered in Varsity Football and started his Junior and Senior year at right guard on Navy’s Offensive line. Immediately following graduation he accepted a commission in the United States Marine Corps and was trained as a helicopter pilot in Pensacola, Florida. After flying CH53 D’s out of Kaneohe, Hawaii for 5 years he returned to Pensacola, Florida as a class room academic instructor for helicopter flight and as a flight instructor. During this time Captain Miller completed a Masters Degree with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Aeronautical Sciences and a Masters Degree in Business Management from Troy State University. In 1998, after flying over 3200 hours in helicopters and fixed wing aircraft Captain Miller left the active duty Marine Corps and returned to Hawaii where he joined the Marine Reserves and took on a job as a professor for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University teaching Aeronautical Science courses. Upon completing his dissertation in 2001, he was awarded his Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California. Married in 2001 to Miss Vicki Whorton of Kailua, Hawaii, Dr. Miller currently resides with his wife Vicki in Kailua. Dr. Miller retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Reserves. He is a surfer, diver, canoe paddler (with Kailua Canoe Club) and attends Victory Hawaii, Kailua. Dr. Miller currently works for the Worldwide College of Aeronautics as the Chair for the MSA.

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With the rapid growth of online learning in higher education in the first two decades of the 21st century, one issue increasingly gaining attention is the crucial role that student engagement may play for the effectiveness and success of technology-enhanced learning approaches. On the one hand, on-demand access from anywhere at any time has afforded students unparalleled learning opportunities and allowed institutions to expand their educational offerings, on the other, especially for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, the incorporation of meaningful learning activities to develop students’ skills through physical manipulation and hands-on experimentation seems to have, so far, only been limitedly possible in the online-distributed environment. One approach that may foster more self-engaged learning and help to overcome some of these challenges is the application of simulation and virtualization technology to allow for more interactive exploration. Nevertheless, a current lack of standards, experiences, and empirical data for their design and implementation make the widespread utilization of such tools difficult. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the systematic development and implementation of a simulated lab learning experience in an online STEM course. Founded in a constructivist view of learning and based on a framework of learning through experiences and progressive cognitive development, a virtual learning environment (VLE) was constructed that allows students to systematically develop methodological understanding and procedural application skills for the collection and analysis of data in a lab environment. The VLE was built around the example of the measurement of frequency-dependent radiation patterns for an acoustic speaker and had two components: Directed Training (DT), during which the students are familiarized with the equipment and the data collection process, and Open Exploration (OE), during which students were given a measurement and analysis task that required them to apply their gained skills. Both, the development of the VLE as well as its implementation followed the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) process used in instructional design, and the required development of students’ competencies was mapped against a desired progress through Bloom’s revised taxonomy. The underlying learning philosophy applied a multilevel cyclical model with increasing complexity, based on experiential learning theory. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected to assess the VLE design and implementation. Thereby, the goal was to provide both summative information about students’ acceptance of the VLE and their learning objective (LO) achievement and formative information about the usability and usefulness of the VLE and its design features, as well as the implementation and evaluation processes applied. The findings supported the overall validity of the selected approach to design and implementation and allowed for a variety of recommendations as well as continuous VLE improvements.

Kleinke, S., & Sanders, B., & Miller, M. D. (2020, June), Incorporation of Virtual Learning Environments for Online STEM Activities Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34815

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