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Projet Mech-eLearn >Papers>Sharjah_paper2006  

HOW TECHNICAL COLLEGE COURSES BECOME SUCCESSFULL WEB-BASED E-LEARNING MODELS THROUGH THE INTEGRATION OF RESEARCH, TEACHING AND COMMUNITY SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Mohamed Aichouni 1 and Soraya Benchicou 2

1         PhD, Assistant Professor            2    MSc in Mechanical Engineering and PhD Candidate

Paper Presented at  4th International Forum on Engineering Education, Integrating Teaching & Research with Community Service - IFEE2006, 25-27 April 2006, University of Sharjah, Sharjah , United Arab Emirates


INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES

DEVELOPMENT OF WEB-BASED COURSES TROUGH RESEARCH

E-LEARNING AS A TEACHING APPROACH
COMMUNITY SERVICES THROUGH WEB-BASED COURSES AND DISCUSSION FORUMS CONCLUDING REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS References
  Retour a l`abstract du paper  

2. DEVELOPMENT OF WEB-BASED COURSES TROUGH RESEARCH

2.1 BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATIONS

The increasing popularity of the Internet and its ability to provide seemingly transparent communication between different computing platforms has simplified the processes of providing learning opportunities to learners. There is a growing maturity of learning management systems (LMS) and an increased sophistication of the communication tools within these systems. These have lead to a great awareness of the ability to duplicate many teaching practices available in face-to-face delivery by academic educators and vocational training practitioners. Computer–mediated communication (CMC) is now used by almost everyone in distance education training and comprises various forms of electronic communication including synchronous chat, audio and video and asynchronous conferencing, email, and file exchange. Also, support for the use of discussion forums in distance education is widespread.

As Muslim educators following the teachings of our Prophet Mohammad, Peace be upon him, and realising the power of ICTs and the potential of the emerging e-Learning concepts to provide the right information to the right people at the right times and places, we, 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 engineering education and vocational training students in the areas of Metrology, Quality Control (Aichouni, [3] ), AutoCAD and Material Testing (Bedri [4, 5]). The purpose of these web-based courses was to improve the quality of the training in engineering, to facilitate the access to this training as well as to contribute to wider use of ICT in engineering education and vocational training. It was an aim for the group to find out how best to use these technologies as a way of delivering courses and how the importance of other web tools such as discussion forums, email, group projects and virtual chats to influence the learning process among college students and to contribute to better serve engineering and technical communities and to dissiminate knowlegde in general. A through analysis of the available litterature on e-Learning allowed us to adopt a building model of the web-based courses based on the ADDIE model, which is adopted from statistical process control (SPC) approach used in quality improvement. 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. Quality measures and good practices in web-based courses, described by Woolsey and Rodchua [6], have been adopted and implemented in the courses.

In this paper we mainly focus on the description of the metrology and quality control web-based courses and their achievements in serving both academia and community. It is worth noting here that these technical subjects are of crutial importance in nowadays global economy driven by the ISO 9000 Quality Assurance series and many other normative national and international standards.

Metrology which is the science of measurements, has a key position in the areas of science, research, industrial production, testing and certification and most obviously in  product quality. Metrology`s results and Quality features are widely present in the every aspects of our daily life. Modern industries and organisations rely heavily on measurements and metrology to produce high quality products and to provide high quality services to their customers. 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 all industrial and business areas. Adequate knowledge in both Metrology and Quality Control is rather necessary for industrial technicians, engineers and also managers in almost all engineering fields and services (Mechanical, Petrochemical, Electrical, Electronics, Defense, Food, Pharmaceutical, Health, Trade, etc..).

 2.2     METROLOGY AND QUALITY CONTROL WEB-BASED COURSES

 Our starting point was based on a golden rule the research group believes on and confirmed recently by Beal [2]. It states that any one can build a web site through the use of usual Microsoft applications (MicroSoft word, Front Page, Power Point, Excel, Mind Jet). Beal showed that these basic applications which are available on standard personal computers (PC) can be easily used to build simple web sites for our students right from the scratch. This simple and valuable rule, which we encourage every educator to adopt, allowed the research group to build simple educational sites in very important technical subjects and to post them to the net as contribution to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning and to the sharing of information and knowledge.

The Metrology and the Quality Control web-based courses described in this paper, have been prepared in Arabic language; These web-based courses consist mainly of multimedia courseware including theoretical lectures, exercises, tests, laboratory reports, and supporting modules, in hypertext form and power point presentations, supported by graphical illustrations (including full color figures and computer animations). Figures 1 and 2  show the main pages of the two courses where the student can move to any subject through the hyperlinks available. Interactivity has been added to the web courses through different techniques:

  • Web links to other educational sites (mainly to enhance the students training on different measuring instruments such as micrometers and Vernier Calipers and Quality tools)

  • Continuous exams posted to the web by the teacher: The student has to work out the exam 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 site

  • 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.

Students were encouraged to participate in technical discussion forums led by the first author on both Metrology and Quality Control.

Click on the links (Figure 1 and Figure 2) to see the image

Figure 1  The Dimensional Metrology web-based course 

Figure 2 The Quality Control web-based course 

2.3   RESULTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

The web-based couses described in this paper were designed mainly for educational purposes at Hail Technical College and to enhance the training process quality. As it will be shown in the next section, the research group believes that this objective has been successfully achieved. Another achievement added to the work was the fact that these two courses are classified by the major search engines on the web such as Google at first positions. It is worth noting here that these two courses were the only arabic educational courses available on the web at the time of the preparation of the manuscript. A google search on the general technical words for quality control (ضبط الجودة) and for metrology (القياسات) would give typical results such as those presented on figures 3 and 4 where both sites are found 1st among 137.000 sites for the Quality Control course and 1st and 2nd among 107.000 sites for the metrology course. A careful examination of the two figures shows that the sites are classified even before the sites of official national and regional organisations of standardisation in the Arab world and even before Arab higer education institutions. The authors are proud of these achievements which are believed to be the results of a successful integration of academic research and teaching activities.

Click on the links to see the image

 

Figure 3 The Google search showing 1st position out of 137.000 sites of the Quality Control web-based course (date : February, 24, 2006)

Figure 4. The Google search showing 1st and 2nd positions out of 107.000 sites of the Metrology web-based course (date : February, 16, 2006)

 

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