These are my notes from Kurt Gramoll ‘s keynote presentation “Delivering Distance Engineering Courses Utilizing Web-based Electronic Media” at the Spring 2010 ODLA conference on April 23, 2010 at the OU K-20 Center. Simon is a professor at Oklahoma University. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.
– professor at OU
– aerospace and mechanical engineering
– research in Engineering Education
– structural analysis is “other” research
– electronic media is perfect for engeineering
— time-based simulations
— 3D animations and visualization
– Common problems: budgets and time
— political issues as an added constraint
— distance learning is a potential solution
I can’t do 3D animations and visualization without a computer
– Example: Salad Spinner (see how it operates)
I get around copyright issues by just building materials myself (because I don’t want to hassle with legal issues)
– Creative Commons was not around 8-10 years ago when I was starting with this
etextbooks can be cheaper for students
Learning Tools: Old and New
– tutor: great if you can afford it
– topic expert: traditional instructor
– book: long storage of knowledge
– CD: losing importance
– Laboratory: trial and error, time consuming
– Group Discussion: collaboration
– Internet: the new library
I have found if I don’t save the instructor TIME, the resources I create do NOT get used
Needed features for the learning system I wanted to design:
– user tracking
– online lecture tool
– course management
– no-downloads (web)
– 3D visualization
– discussion forum
– lecture creation
When students come in and ask me questions, I can go in with them and see if they’ve opened that section of the course eBook
Very few instructors will write their own questions and upload them to a learning management system
– classic way most instructors test: the 2 book method (teach out of 1 book, ask test questions out of another textbook – which students do NOT have)
I developed this because of problems with WebCT and Blackboard
– needed system with content, not just framework
– needed something to save me time: in 2004/2005 I have 100+ students per class
– wanted to reduce costs to students if possible
– publishers now offering systems:
– Wiley edugen.wiley.com
– Pearson – www.masteringengineering.com
8 years ago, WebCT / Blackboard were not oriented toward engineering (MY COMMENT: THEY STILL ARE NOT SPECIFIC TO 1 DISCIPLINE AS FAR AS I KNOW)
– this system I’ll show today can be used exclusively at a distance, but it can also be used in a blended format (and that is how I use it most)
If other instructors (even at other institutions) wants to use my system they can, I host the courses for them
– I use an access key to prevent students from gaining access and setting up their own courses to get all the test questions!
Beams don’t crush, they buckle
– my students must understand this
– I’m trying to give my students interesting case studies which they may not have thought about previously, and then also share the theories which go with it
Looking at the user statistics is a nice tool for me, I can see if students are reading or not… This is something I can emphasize in class, it is a very useful tool for me.
How does cloud computing affect us in engineering?
– intensive calculations that can be done “in a cluster,” maybe 24 CPUs working on a problem for you
– processors in your laptops now are more powerful than the computers on the Space Shuttle
Example: let’s design our own airfoils
Students want instant results, so using computers in the cloud / clusters can provide much faster results for students
By using this online system, students can get their grades within an hour of it being posted
– once solutions are posted, students can’t get credit
Server keeps track of where and when students logged into the course
– that can help you figure out if it was a student problem or a server problem in a particular circumstance
My online quiz system lets instructors point and click to choose questions for their course EASILY
– that is the key: 90% of the instructors I’m familiar with won’t online systems like Desire2Learn to do anything except post their syllabus
– we have to make this easier
My perspective: There are 3-4 textbook writers in Engineering with this type of content now available
– publishers have stayed away from Desire2Learn, BlackBoard, etc so they have built their own portals
– ultimately I see this going to more of a WikiPedia model: community uses it, contributes to it
What about collaboration?
– I have added an electronic whiteboard function that I can use with a Tablet PC
– I can record an entire whiteboard session with the click of a mouse
I hate bandwidth hogs: So I wrote this system to run nicely over a dial-up modem
– so we don’t have video in this system
– do videos really help students learn? In Engineering, no.
– Circus training: Yes. You need videos.
MY COMMENT: THAT IS A VERY INTERESTING OPINION. I WONDER IF THIS IS A COMMON PERCEPTION AMONG ENGINEERING FACULTY?
I was so excited about the iPad until I learned it didn’t support Flash!
– I use Turban7 to change those instructions into Flash action script
– I don’t have to license anything to anyone: It’s all free
3 years ago Prof from McNeese State in Lousiana asked about using it, that professor just obtained a NSF grant and they are going to institutionalize the use of this learning management system for students in all their community colleges (learning at a distance)
My learning management system could actually be used for non-Engineering courses, but at this point it’s just engineering
It can be a nightmare to design a “self-paced” course for students
Online Statics course delivery comparison
— deliver a high quality statics class to community college students over the Internet
— compare student performance and satisfaction
– same course delivered to 2 groups of community college students covering the same material but using different delivery methods
– no pre-selection of students in either class: students had the option of choosing either option
– both classes held meeting times 3 times a week
– on-campus students had office hours in person while others met virtually
– both had weekly assignments to turn in
overall test score average for online versus on-campus students was 77.0 vs 70.7
– my key message is that online: you are getting an equal or better learning opportunity
Engineering students think it’s a birthright to have partial credit
– many go through the roof at multiple choice
– I remind them that the bridge either stands up or it falls down: there is no partial credit for a bridge that collapses
I ask them if they remember that Mars mission 8 years ago, when it crashed into the planet?
– that was a $200 million spacecraft, the problem was conversion factors that were wrong (someone measuring in feet, someone in another unit)
WOW THAT IS A GREAT STORY TO SHARE. THAT WOULD MAKE A GREAT DIGITAL STORY!
I wanted to show you more demos and we are almost out of time!
University style: everything is open
We did a lot of online training for Tinker AFB: tinker.ou.edu
– This does save them a lot of time and money, don’t have to bring in people to lecture
– with this model, they can actually have people answer questions and prove if they have learned something or not as a result of their learning experience
CD example: Math 4 Teaching Textbook
– Oklahoma company called “Teaching Textbooks”
– all down with Flash and delivered via CD
– that company refuses to put their work on the web
– at least 20-30% of their homeschool market do not want to have ANY Internet access for their students on the computer which their students are using for learning
People learn different ways, we need to provide different ways for students to access content and learn
HEAR, HEAR – AMEN!
I think students are going to stop using laptops and going to higher resolution smartphones
– the resolution on many of these devices is phenomenal
Toughest thing I have in this job: something else comes along and keeps me up at night!
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