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     e-Learning in Technical Education and Vocational Training: From Concepts to Practice

 

                    Mohamed AICHOUNI                                      Mohammad Othman AL-NAIS

             PhD, Assistant Professor                            EdD, Assistant Professor

             Hail College of Technology.                         Hail College of Technology

             Email : m_aichouni@yahoo.co.uk                 Email : dr_alnais@hotmail.com

 

      Paper Presented at : The 3rd Saudi Technical Conference and Exhibition, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

                                 28 Shawal – 4 Dhul-qaada 1425 H  ,  11- 15 December 2004


have a look at the PowerPoint presentation (In Arabic)

 

Abstract

Since the times of Euclid's, knowledge has been delivered using the face-to-face interaction between the learner and his teacher. It is universally accepted that this approach is the best way for education and training. However, with the advent of the  Information and Communication Technologies (mainly the World Wide Web) it became possible to enhance further the methods we are using to teach our students. In the present paper, Web based education approach is used as a learning tool to demonstrate Metrology concepts and dimensional measurement techniques for technical students. An electronic course has been developed as an e-Learning package available on the internet for student enrolled at the first year mechanical technology diploma.

 KEY WORDS: e-Learning,  Web-based Education, Metrology, Quality.


1 -  INTRODUCTION

 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) open a completely new world for the use of the latest technology progresses in education and training. Hardware and software developments enable obtaining of a good result in relatively favorable costs. Proper attention must be paid to such possibilities to encourage teachers and  students to take the advantages offered by ICT. It does not definitely mean that the educational classicism is forgotten. Information and Communication Technologies just bring new ways how to transform scientific information in a new form and in an adequate manner to students and learners.

 Developed countries such as USA, Canada, Australia and the European Union have adopted policies concerning the use of ICT services (Computer Networks, Internet, www, multimedia, java etc..) by educational and training institutions, enterprises and individuals. Political summits (Stockholm, March 2001) have stressed the importance of ICT for the creation of a so called  society of knowledge, for higher quality of education and subsequently for the economical growth; for removing barriers of employment among individual states, etc. In particular, the training policy vision includes:  

·        Development of human skills necessary for living and work in the information society;

·        The use of modern information and communication technologies in training;

·        The diversity of training possibilities (tutorials, open universities, and distance learning);

·        Contribution to higher quality education;

·        Improvement of the access to education for all people including disabled people, women and minorities .

 It has been shown by international educators that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer the following innovative features to education and training:

·        High illustrative ness,

·        Knowledge concentration in one product which can be directly used for training,

·        High flexibility and adaptability in preparation of training courses for individual target groups with different training needs,

·        Facilitated access to the training,

·        Use in different types and levels of the education.

The above-mentioned points, concerning use of ICT in educational process, stress increased efficiency of the  training that has a great economical impact.

 2  -  WHY USE ICT IN EDUCATION OF METROLOGY ?

Metrology is the science of measurements associated with the evaluation of its uncertainty. Metrology and measurement have a key position in the areas of science, research, industrial production, product quality testing and certification. While metrology is seen to be a research science for highly specialized experts, its results together with the appropriate measurement equipment are widely used in the every aspects of our daily life. Modern industries rely heavily on measurements and metrology. It is estimated that the costs of measurements represent up to 10-15% of the production costs. In Europe of today what is measured and weighted costs about 6% of the combined gross national product (Halaj et al. 2003). Increasing precision of measurements, more sophisticated methods and means, continuing research as well as considerable amount of  newly adopted ISO normative standards lay high requirements on the qualification and skills of persons working in this area. Adequate knowledge in metrology and measurement is rather necessary for industrial technicians, engineers and also managers in almost all engineering fields (Mechanical, Automotive, Petrochemical, Electrical, Electronics, Defense, Health, Trade, etc..).

Within highly competitive market, modern companies should consider metrology and measurement in their technological decisions and innovation policies. This has resulted in an increased demand for training in the area of metrology and measurement. With the advent of the ISO 17025 (formerly ISO Guide 25) and the ISO 9000 Quality Assurance series, and through a DACUM curriculum analysis, Bagley (2000) showed that the need for metrologists is continuing to rise in order to support the strong demand in both the private and the public industrial and commercial sectors.

The potential of the traditional approaches to vocational training in metrology and measurement has reached its performance limit and can not fully satisfy the actual and future requirements (Hofmann and Linss (2003)). The traditional vocational training system in the area of measurements and metrology provides face-to-face training courses consisting of lectures, exercises and laboratory trainings. The advance in Information and Communication Technologies in the form of the World Wide Web, HTML, Java programming, Microsoft Office, Scientific Computing Environments and Multimedia have been shown to offer real opportunities for enhancing the quality of engineering education and training. Web-based learning will create very good conditions for the training of regular college students, for disabled people, and of course, ensures equal chances to women for vocational training and technical education.

 3 - What is e-Learning?

 The main difficulty in attempting to define e-Learning is that it is relatively new and still evolving. A standard way of writing ‘e-Learning’ has not yet been established. It is still written in different ways: “elearning, e-Learning, ELearning, E-Learning”.  “e-learning (electronic learning) refers to training, education, coaching, and information that is delivered digitally. e-Learning may be synchronous, meaning that learners and instructors are interacting in real time or not, in which case the term asynchronous applies. e-Learning is normally delivered through a network via the Internet, but it may also be delivered by CD-ROM, satellite, and even supported by the telephone.” (Broadbent Brooke, 2002). 

The true power of e-Learning is likely to be found in its potential to provide the right information to the right people at the right times and places.

e-Learning is being presented in the marketplace as the next evolution of the training and education industry and the next phase in the digital revolution. Having established what the literature has to say about e-Learning, it is appropriate to identify the benefits of using e-Learning to industrial companies and employees:

·                    Wide Availability and Accessibility

·                    Convenience

·                    Improved Retention

·                    Instant Feedback

·                    Accommodation of  Different Learning Styles and Multimedia formats

·                    Hands on Training

·                    Collaboration

·                    Standardized Course Delivery

·                    Information Resource

·                    Learner Control and Ownership

·                    Lower Costs

 The use of technology to acquire learning and to deliver training has been with us since early sixties and it has been developing since then with the advent of this technology (Figure 1). In the open literature many forms (and colors!) of e-Learning have been presented during the last decade as shown in figure2. As proposed by Broadbent (2002) a common structure of all e-Learning forms is based on four major components. These are :

·        The Learner;

·        The Content;

·        The Instruction and;

·        The Technology.

 The structure is best presented as a quality triangle which reflects the fact that the objective of this approach is to improve and to enhance the learning process quality. The learner is at the middle of the structure and the other component have to be in line with what he can handle.

  

 

 

 

 

Figure 2 – Basic Structure of e-Learning  and its Types (Braodbent, 2002)

 

4 – Development of a web-Based Course on Metrology:

Based on the above analysis of e-Learning components, a group of educators at the Mechanical Technology Department launched a project to develop web-based training programs. The aim was to develop and disseminate multimedia training packages for technical education and  vocational training in the areas of Metrology  and Quality Control (Aichouni,2004), AutoCAD and Material Testing (Bedri,2004). The purpose of these web-based packages is to improve the quality and efficiency of the vocational training in mechanical technology, to facilitate the access to this training as well as to contribute to wider use of Information and Communication Technologies in Technical Education and Vocational Training in accordance with the general policy adopted by the GOTEVOT. 

The e-Learning cycle shown in figure 3, follows the ADDIE model, which is adopted from the Statistical Process Control Approach used in process quality improvements. ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation. During the project these important phases have been considered with a great care and careful consideration.

 

  Figure 3 – e-Learning  Life Cycle

The Metrology web-based course which is described in this paper, has been prepared in Arabic language; It  consists mainly of multimedia courseware including theoretical lectures, exercises, tests, laboratory reports, and supporting modules, all in hypertext form, supported by graphical illustrations (including full color figures, computer animations, video sequences). Table 1 summarizes the content of the web-based course which is adopted from the standardized curriculum designed by the GOTEVOT. Figure 4, shows the main page of the course where the student can move to any subject (Different measurement techniques, laboratory reports, past exams, etc..) through the hyperlinks available. Interactivity has been added to the web course through different techniques:

·        Web links to other training sites (mainly to enhance his training on the reading of micrometers and Vernier Calipers (Figure 5-a))

·        Continuous exams posted to the web by the teacher: The student has to work out these exams as home work and to submit it to his teacher within the week.

·        Laboratory reports to be prepared by the student after each training session according to a pre-designed model available on the web (figure 5-b).

·        An email address has been provided to students to contact their teacher and ask any question or make any comment about the lectures or the training laboratory session.

 

Table 1 – Metrology Web-Based Course Content

Working package

Module

1

General introduction

1

Basics of metrology and measurement

 

 

2

International System of Units

 

 

3

Metrology in the Holly Koran

 

 

4

Dimensional measuring principles

2

Dimensional Measurements

5

Steal Rulers

 

 

5

Vernier Calipers

 

 

6

Micrometers

 

 

7

Gage blocks

3

Angular Measurements

8

Angular Measurements Techniques

 4

 Form and shape metrology

9

 Form and shape metrology

 5

 Measurement uncertainty

10

Uncertainty in measurement

 

 

11

Measurement process control

6

Legal Metrology and Organizations

12

National and International Metrology organizations (ISO, OIML, SASO, etc…)

 

 

13

Accreditation and Certification

 7

 Introduction to Quality Control

14

 Introduction to Quality Control

 5 – Assessment of the web-based course:

 The web-based course developed has been used as a supplement to the regular classroom for the second semester of the academic year 1424/1425 Hejrit. In order to make an evaluation of this experience within our technical college conditions, a survey has been designed and given to enrolled students attending the metrology course. The survey which is designed and prepared in Arabic language is shown in appendix A. The number of students who answered the survey was 50 out of 57 students enrolled on the course. Typical results are summarized in table 2 and figure 6. From this survey, it is clear that the e-Learning approach is well accepted by the technical college students though some difficulties and barriers which still exist between the student ant the IC Technologies. The great majority of the students agreed that most of the aspects related to the design, development, implementation and delivery of the electronic course via the internet are good. Most importantly is that the tested students showed a general acceptance to learn through this new approach while some of our colleagues educators and trainers show a resistance to change from the traditional method to the new method of teaching and training (e-Learning).

This web-based course developed is believed to create very good conditions for learners mainly students attending regular classroom and to senior engineers and technicians attending continuing training programs at the department; Also for the training of disabled people, and of course can ensure equal chances of women for technical education and vocational training as well.

 

             

   Figure 4 – The web-based Metrology Course Home Page

http://hctmetrology.tripod.com

  

                 

  Figure 5 – Interactivity enhancement modules at the web-based metrology course

 

Table 2 – Survey Evaluation Results

 

Question

Answer

No Answer

Yes

No

Q1

The student visited the metrology web page

94 %

04 %

02 %

Q2

The page content is useful to the degree prepared

92 %

08 %

00 %

Q3

The language used in the web page is correct

92 %

08 %

00 %

Q4

The access to the web page is easy

62 %

30 %

08 %

Q5

Navigation through the different modules of the page is easy.

84 %

16 %

00 %

Q6

The student visited the web links provided on the  page

18 %

66 %

16 %

Q7

The page is important and worth the time you spend reading it.

84 %

14 %

02 %

Q8

The e-Learning approach is suitable to mechanical technology education and training

72 %

24 %

04 %

Q9

This approach should be generalized to other courses in the syllabus.

74 %

24 %

02 %

  

 Figure 6 – Web-based course evaluation results

6 - Conclusions drawn and future plans:

 The implementation of e-Learning concepts to Technical Education and Vocational Training allowed to develop a web-based course on Metrology designed to first year mechanical technology students. The web-based course has been hosted on the net and is available for students, trainees, and any one wishing to get trained in this specific area of technology. The e-course which is hosted on (http://hctmetrology.tripod.com) can be freely accessed by the technical and the academic populations. Comments and remarks concerning, the content, the design and the techniques used to deliver this training, coming from the readers would be most welcome.

If the e-Learning approach is to be useful and successful in technical education and vocational training, it needs to reach a wide audience that will provide a large user community. Through large user base, sufficient comments can be expected which would lead to a better improvement of web-based courses. 

There are issues of awareness and promotion of this site so it will reach the widest possible technical students community, working technicians and engineers in Saudi Arabia, G.E.C. countries and the Arab world. An international dimension can be reached if English and French mirrors of the site are added.

 7 - References:

 [1] M. Halaj, P. Gabko, E. Kurekova1 and R. Pale, 2003, `Project for the modern educational tool in measurement and metrology`, Measurement Science Review, Volume 3, Section 1, pp. 23-26.

[2] J. L. Bagley, 2000, `Metrology education in the new millennium`, International Journal of Metrology, Volume 5, pp. 26-32. 

[3] D. Hofmann and G. Linss, 2003, `Challenges and chances of internet metrology`, Measurement Science Review, Volume 3, Section 1, pp. 1-17.

[4] B. Broadbent, 2002, `E-learning, present and future`, Ottawa Distance Learning Group.

Retrieved from internet http://www.e-learninghub.com/docs/ODLG_2002.pdf   on May, 5th, 2004.

[5] M. Aichouni, 2004, `Dimensional Metrology Home Page`, Internet web page hosted at  the URL http://hctmetrology.tripod.com

[6] R. Bedri and H. Al-Moteiry, 2004, `Web based Materials Testing dedicated tutorials`, hosted at the URL : http://members.tripod.com/saidhail/

[7] R. Bedri, 2004, `Web based AutoCAD dedicated tutorials`, hosted at the URL : http://members.tripod.com/ramdhanhail/

 

 

 

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Last Updated on : January 2005