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Type: Conference paper
Title: E-enhancement of existing courses: Is it worth it?
Author: Falkner, N.
Willis, C.
Citation: The Profession of Engineering Education: Advancing Teaching, Research and Careers Conference: Proceedings / L. Mann & S. Daniel (eds.): pp.528-537
Publisher: Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Publisher Place: online
Issue Date: 2012
ISBN: 9780987177230
Conference Name: Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference (23rd : 2012 : Melbourne, Victoria)
Statement of
Nickolas J. G. Falkner and Craig R. Willis
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Blended learning is an approach that recognises that a combination of teaching techniques (face-to-face, on-line and mobile) can be a very effective way to share knowledge with today’s students using today’s technology. This paper introduces two case studies in Civil Engineering and Computer Science for a move to blended learning through the electronic enhancement (e-enhancement) of learning materials in well-established courses. This initiative is evidence-based and combines both quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the learning and teaching (L&T) strategies implemented in the existing courses on both students and staff. PURPOSE: Given that there are so many ways to update and enhance a course, is it worth the effort to move to blended learning and, if so, how can we justify the investment of time and resources? DESIGN/METHOD: Two courses, a first year course in Civil Engineering and a third year course in Computer Science, were selected for enhancement and different strategies were used, including on-line materials, podcasting, rapid feedback and game-based learning, to move to a blended learning environment. We chose to monitor a set of key indicators: ongoing participation after increased electronic delivery and lecture recording, student engagement and academic performance, as resistance to blended learning often revolves around issues of reductions in lecture attendance, student engagement and academic rigour and quality. These were assessed through surveys, student outcomes, participation and self-evaluation to assess the overall impacts. The staff involved in the process also monitored their own time to assess the influence on their own workload. The assessment and analysis was carried out through both qualitative and quantitative assessment mechanisms. RESULTS: Students found the new electronic L&T materials and approach to be engaging, useful and a desirable alternative to existing materials, with strong evidence that the materials were used extensively throughout the course and in the lead-up to examinations. Student performance either improved or remained at the same level, however student satisfaction increased overall in all offerings. Staff noted that the initial investment of effort, while greater than usual, resulted in no additional time investment over the entirety of the course. Most importantly, the availability of blended learning materials had no significant impact on lecture attendance and, for the greater majority of students, was not seen as a reason to miss lectures. CONCLUSIONS: A move to a blended learning approach is desirable for a large number of courses as it allows academics to maintain pedagogical standards while increasing student satisfaction and has no significant increase in academic workload over time. However, in general, transitional support and training for staff are vital to this success, as there is an initial burden in discovering techniques that work and having the underlying support resources to achieve this success.
Keywords: electronic enhancement
educational problem
on-line learning
blended learning
workload management
student satisfaction.
Rights: Copyright © Nickolas J. G. Falkner and Craig R. Willis 2012
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Computer Science publications

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