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The challenges of creating successful collaborative working and learning activities in online engineering courses

The challenges of creating successful collaborative working and learning activities in online engineering courses

Bacon, Liz and MacKinnon, Lachlan (2016) The challenges of creating successful collaborative working and learning activities in online engineering courses. In: "Engineering Innovations for Global Sustainability": Proceedings of the Fourteenth LACCEI International Multi-Conference for Engineering, Education and Technology (LACCEI 2016). LACCEI (Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions), pp. 1-9. ISBN 978-0-9822896-9-3 ISSN 2414-6390 (doi:10.18687/LACCEI2016.1.1.151)

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Abstract

The authors consider a number of the issues that arise when developing online engineering courses, with a particular focus on group-based collaborative working and learning. They argue that these issues are more difficult to address in STEM subjects, where there is an expectation that students will work with heavyweight processes, requiring significant sharing of expertise and resources, rather than the lighter weight processes experienced by open, discursive groups in other subject areas. The paper considers the history of collaborative and cooperative working and learning in computer supported environments, leading to the current models of online support for such activities. It identifies the key challenges and success factors when developing online learning courses, drawn from both the research and the authors’ own experience. It considers the challenges of moving from face-to-face to online learning, and how these have been addressed, before focusing more closely on collaborative learning, particularly in Engineering and related subjects. The authors then report on the experience of running a MOOC for an EU research project, in which they attempted to use a heavyweight Engineering Design process, Concurrent Design (CCD) to support collaborative activities within the course. The design and development of the course is described, and then the operation of the MOOC and the experience of the students and tutors, concluded by a statistical view of the outcomes. The paper then draws some conclusions for the design and development of online courses in Engineering, and a consideration of how to deal with preparing students to engage with heavyweight processes, like CCD, in such online courses. Techniques involving pre-selection, filtering and blended learning are discussed, and considerations of the motivation of students when undertaking courses as part of qualification studies. We must develop techniques to support collaborative learning in online courses, as they represent the future.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Title of Proceedings: "Engineering Innovations for Global Sustainability": Proceedings of the Fourteenth LACCEI International Multi-Conference for Engineering, Education and Technology (LACCEI 2016)
Additional Information: Refereed paper presented at the 14th Latin American and Caribbean Conference for Engineering and Technology, San Jose, Costa Rica, 20-22 July 2016
Uncontrolled Keywords: Online learning, Collaborative, Cooperative, MOOCs
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of Computing & Information Systems
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > eCentre
Greenwich Research into Innovative Pedagogies (GRIP)
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2018 10:20
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/17249

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