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No-cost Implementation of Electronic Lab Notebooks in an Intro Engineering Design Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Division for Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Daisuke Aoyagi California State University, Chico

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Daisuke Aoyagi received a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, and a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from University of California, Irvine. He worked as a research engineer at Los Amigos Research and Education Institute in Downey, California. He is an assistant professor in the department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing at California State University, Chico. His research interests are in the areas of engineering education, mechatronics, robotics, assistive technology, and rehabilitation engineering.

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In our “Introduction to Engineering Design” course, we had traditionally used paper-based Lab Notebooks (LN). In a three-ring binder, students would keep records of their work, including printout of spreadsheets, controller programs, etc. However, many students expressed reluctance to this routine, part of the reason being the cost and inconvenience of printing. They regarded the LN and, by association, the concept of engineering documentation as a pointless chore, rather than an integral component of their learning experience. In response, we considered electronic LN (eLN), and opted to use the tools at hand: Blackboard Learn (BBL) and Google Drive (GD). A comparison test was conducted with three sections of the course. One section used traditional paper-based LN. In the other two sections, computer-generated contents were saved in their original format, and non-computer-generated contents were digitized and saved. Students were to organize these in an electronic “folder”, which essentially served as their eLN. Between the two sections that used eLN, one was to submit the contents via BBL, while the other was to maintain the contents in a GD folder that the instructor shared with each student. The main objectives were to explore the feasibility of replacing paper binders with electronic folders, and to identify technical and managerial characteristics of using BBL and GD as platform. The assessment was based on analysis of responses to an end-of-semester survey, analysis of the quality and completeness of the LN, and anecdotal account of student comments and reactions. We found that both implementations of eLN were feasible. The BBL method resulted in somewhat better completeness than the other methods. GD was less effective than the other two methods as a mechanism to submit assignments; on average, those who used GD were more likely to miss the deadline or submit incomplete work. Although powerful, GD seemed almost too flexible and complicated to a number of students whose computer literacy was still developing. In following semesters, we plan to use BBL as main platform, supplemented by GD.

Aoyagi, D. (2018, June), No-cost Implementation of Electronic Lab Notebooks in an Intro Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30841

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