Piloting Online Learning in Engineering Education

Year: 2007

Author: Oerlemans, Karin, May, Eric, Hurle, Bob

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper reports the findings of a pilot study introducing online learning in a school of engineering at a major Australian university. We are in the process of developing online courses, using blended learning. Blended learning denotes the blend of face-to-face with web-supported learning, and promises to offer globally disparate students educational access. In the pilot project we developed two online lectures and embedded these into the University's LMS, followed by a face-to-face workshop, covering a fundamental course concept. As part of the process we included a short assessment to allow students to check their understanding of the topic. A final test of their comprehension was included as part of the course exam.

The purpose of the study was both to help our undergraduate engineering students learn a fundamental engineering theory, and gain a greater understanding of how students learn in an online environment. We were interested to evaluate, on a small scale, the ways in which we are developing our course materials and be able to gauge firsthand the impact on students learning. Blended learning offers opportunities for deep and persistent learning when well designed and developed, but also raises some questions. These are further explored in the paper.