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The Effect of Soft Classroom: A New Learning Environment Integrating MOOCs into Conventional Classrooms for College Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Pedagogy and Learning Within Engineering Design Graphics II

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors

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Shih-Chung Jessy Kang P.E. National Taiwan University


Yifen Li National Taiwan University

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A graduate Student of Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University.

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ChingMei Tseng

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In the last two decades, with new insight into the nature of teaching and learning, a variety of constructivist approaches have been proposed to provide flexible and powerful student-centered learning environments. Recent advances in technology and in ideology have unlocked entirely new directions for education research. The flipped classroom is at the center of this discussion. This paper presents an ongoing study on how to integrate MOOCs courses with a physical credit course on campus, employing both the flipped classroom and self-directed learning ideation. The authors developed four courses, 2D CAD, 2D CAD project, 3D CAD and 3D CAD projects, on Coursera, a popular MOOC platform. Four courses cover the concepts of engineering graphics, basic skills 2D CAD and 3D CAD, and also detailed step-by-step instructions on developing the drawings (both 2D and 3D) for a five-story building. The authors integrated these four MOOC courses into a three-credit engineering graphic course which has been offered on regular semester basis. Since the expecting working loads are different between MOOC learners and campus students, the instructor arranged a learning schedule for campus students which is approximately two times faster than MOOC schedule. MOOC courses include the lectures, quizzes, assignments and discussion forums, physical face-to-face meeting on campus seem not to be absolutely necessary. The instructor therefore conducted a poll in the beginning of the semester and allowed students to choose their preferable “learning style,” deciding whether or not they would go to classroom during the course hours listed on syllabus and how their learnings are facilitated. “Soft classroom” is students’ first choice, compared to “hybrid classroom” and “hard classroom.” They are NOT required to attend the classroom physically. In addition, students are responsible for their own pace of learning. The instructor and teaching assistance are still available in the classroom during the course hours to interact with students To understand how “soft classroom” helps students to learn, the authors distributed a research self-developed survey to reflect students’ attitude toward classroom attending preferences as well as their learning efficacy under this innovative self-regulated learning. Totally three surveys were conducted to examine students’ change of attitude, preference as well as how they perceive their learning efficiency. Based on students’ self-report, the averaging rate of physical classroom attendance is 26%. More than 60 % of students still prefer this “soft classroom” learning. In addition, they reported how efficient this course is responding to this new learning style. Another intriguing finding is that the average midterm scores are 89 points out of 100, approximately 10% higher than the ones in the previous year. The results from three-time surveys as well as focus group interview provides evidence of the success of the current case. Students exhibit positive attitude toward the soft classroom. Besides expressing preference in this learning paradigm, students benefit from its effectiveness. The soft classroom is an innovative model of teaching, which utilizes educational technology and activity learning to positively influence the learning environment by providing students opportunities to decide the ways they are learning.

Keywords: MOOC, Blended Learning, Flipped Classroom

Kang, S. J., & Li, Y., & Tseng, C. (2016, June), The Effect of Soft Classroom: A New Learning Environment Integrating MOOCs into Conventional Classrooms for College Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26138

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