Title: The Virtual Learning Space: teaching electrical engineering online

Authors: Iven Mareels, Som Naidu, Melissa Labura

Addresses: Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Multimedia Education Unit, The University of Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia. Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Abstract: This paper reports the design, development and evaluation of The Virtual Learning Space which is an internet-based learning and teaching environment developed for a first year Electrical Engineering subject at the University of Melbourne, Australia. The project is the result of collaboration between The University of Melbourne, and Box Hill and Kangan Batman Institutes of TAFE. The target subject, Electrical Engineering 1, provides students with an introduction to the fundamentals of electrical engineering. This semester subject attracts large enrolment numbers annually. Students have a variety of backgrounds and skill levels and many have no prior knowledge of electrical engineering concepts. The design of this learning space is driven by the need to guide students to reflect critically on the study materials, in both independent and collaborative modes. Online exercises and realistic problem solving activities with immediate feedback facilitate independent critical reflection, while small group tutorials and online communication support collaborative activities. Formative evaluation data indicate that students use the resources in the Virtual Learning Space in a variety of ways. There is an indication that this project has caused students| expectations of teaching and learning to change. Students are now beginning to expect lecture and other learning materials to be available online. Lecturers displayed different levels of enthusiasm in using the materials on the site for their teaching. Some used it extensively and readily, while others needed a little more enculturation in its use.

Keywords: online learning; engineering education; web-based learning; virtual learning.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2001.000386

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2001 Vol.11 No.1/2, pp.107-116

Published online: 16 Jul 2003 *

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