Project Designs Innovative Approaches to Teach Engineering over the Internet
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Internet-based Performance Support Systems with Educational Elements (IPSS_EE) is aimed at implementation of innovative approaches for task-performance independent e-learning and development of new instruments in instructional design of Internet-based courses for engineering education. It is a two-years project within the European program Socrates/ Minerva and the partners are from six European universities and one college.
The main objectives of the project are:
1. Development of IPSS_EE for university and vocational engineering education with implementation of innovative pedagogical approaches for task-performance oriented learning.
2. Development of quality criteria and methods of alternative assessment of students performance.
3. Training/preparing teachers for student centred coaching, and students for independent and activity-oriented learning.
4. Setting up comparative analyses for improving the understanding of learning processes and experiences in using ICT in order to provide a “knowledge basis” about progress and obstacles in this field.
In the "traditional" web-based training usually the expository deductive instructional strategy is used. The engineering education, including vocational training, involves the use and application of skills for finding solutions, making decisions, and thinking effectively, i.e. problem-solving skills. There is a need for using instructional strategies and tactics for higher-level skills in the course design. In this project discovery inductive strategy is implemented in an intelligent computer-assisted instruction (related most to problem-solving) with a powerful Internet-based Performance Support System.
The developed IPSS_EE environment contains three integrated web-based systems:
1. IPSS_EE Editor presents all materials - input or copy/paste text and objects in text fields, or browse files in different formats, as elements of IPSS_EE. The Save action in IPSS_EE Editor fills automatically IPSS_EE data-base on the server.
2. IPSS_EE Student Area contains an information area with the main course content presented with hyperlinks or/and in a database; a CBT area with examples, tutorials, exercises, tests, projects, and an advisory area with an expert system.
3. IPSS_EE Administrator allows the administrator to read the information about problems, symptoms and solutions for specific IPSS_EE module and to create the model of the expert system (goal, questions, set-rules and diagnostics), and then to input this model in the Knowledge Wright Workshop. The result is a file with expert advices, which can be embedded in the IPSS_EE Student Area application.
Learners work with IPSS_EE Student Area – this is IPSS_EE for a specific subject area, with preliminary defined from the IPSS_EE Editor structure and automatic developed from data on the IPSS_EE Server. The main area this part is concerned with is the Task performance environment, where the learner can perform the task using applications/files or simulation activities. Other links provide access to other parts of the IPSS_EE that help the learner to perform the task – task-specific training, instructions how to perform, reference information, software for task performance and expert advices for problems and trouble shootings. Each of these parts is presented in a new window, opened on the working environment. The rationale behind this is:
· to allow learners to access the elements of IPSS_EE quickly;
· learners generally see themselves as on a workplace rather than in a classroom;
· the learner doesn’t loose the assumption that the main goal is to perform the task and the links are used to increase the quality of this performance.
One of the project objectives is to set up comparative analyses for improving the understanding of learning processes and experiences in using ICT. The hypothesis is that the learning in an Internet-based environment with PSS_EE proves pedagogic effectiveness as indicated by performance, attitudes and perceptions of students. The sub-hypotheses are:
· this new learning environment offers opportunity for University structure (department, faculty) to recognise the importance of managing and collecting its students’ experience, and derive from this experience the useful and new features and transform them to the knowledge for the new learning.
· as a new technology, IPSS_EE will move the traditional teaching to the closely related to the job learning. In this point, these systems have a strong potential to help students mastering job-related skills.
For the pedagogic effectiveness of the new courses an experiment with pilot groups of students is planned. The experiment is performed during the pilot test and the field trials. The pilot test is conducted with small groups of students from the PU, TCP (Bulgaria) and INPG (France). In the field trial larger groups of students from PU, TCP, TUS (Bulgaria), UNED-DIEEC (Spain) and INPG (France) will participate. During the tests two samples of students work on the same content, one – performing tasks in IPSS_EE and the second – with traditional lecturing and laboratory practice methods. By the end of the experiment the mean score and frequency distribution of the marks on both knowledge test and performance on project development will be compared. The information on the attitudes and perceptions of the students working with the Internet-based modules will be collected and records of communication files. The scheme of our Experimental design is presented on Fig.4, where: O1 is questionnaire (pretest); X1 is treatment (traditional); X2 is treatment (IPSS_EE); O2 is questionnaire (posttest); O3 is test (product); O4 is test (learning); EG means experimental group; CG means control group.
In the experiments different groups of learners are involved (1) of different gender and nationality, speaking four different languages, (2) regular students from traditional universities, which work in an open scheme, and students of one university for distance education, (3) regular students of one college. So, the expected results of the analyses of learners' attitudes and profiles, of the impact of task-performance e-learning on learning processes will be representative and will get a better insight of what is to be transferred and how, and finally will contribute to the successful implementation of the IPSS_EE.Contacts:
Manuel Alonso Castro Gil