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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  

4. COMMUNITY SERVICES THROUGH WEB-BASED COURSES AND DISCUSSION FORUMS

Among the objectives the research group focused on, were: a) to improve the quality of the vocational training at technical college and higher education levels, b) to facilitate the access to educational material and c) to create a network of specialists with virtual interests around a main technical subjects. By posting these courses on the internet and leaving them freely accessed, our aim was to share this information with other academic teachers and students and with practitioner engineers and technicians from industry throughout the Arab countries and hopefully to contribute in the building up of knowledge society in the Arab world. In a recent study, Korich and Hunt [7] showed the importance of other ICT tools such as discussion forums, emails and virtual chats in the learning process and their efficiency in contributing to better serve engineering and technical communities and to disseminate knowledge within the community. Online discussion forums are now regularly used as a component of distance education courses in engineering education as a means of promoting interaction between course participants. They create an environment similar to the face-to-face classroom environment where knowledge can be critically constructed, validated and shared. As the use of discussion forums has grown and its efficiency in e-Learning has been proved, it was decided to integrate this approach in our web courses. After a careful analysis of the existing discussion forums on the net in Arabic language it was decided to link the courses with the “Tikania” forum (http://www.tkne.net/vb) (Figure 6) and the Arabic statisticians (http://www.arabicstat.com/board) (Figure 7) where sections of industrial metrology and quality control were created respectively. The integration of these two discussion forums with our web-based courses creates an interactive environment to both students and practitioner engineers and led to a substantiall increased interest of both categories on the topics. The quality of the postings from the participants coming from different horizons contributes in the construction of knowledge around the main subjects and in building a collaborative learning environment where novice student benefits from the experienced industrial engineer and business manager.

(Click on the links to see the figures)

Figure 6.    The “Tikania” Discussion Forum

Figure 7.  The Quality Control Department at the Arabic Statisticians Discussion Forum

During a one year period, in the quality control discussion forum 25 subjects were discussed and 145 postings have been done with total readings of 14.450. The most popular subjects were the `Quality Control Charts subject` with 34 postings and 3.545 readings and the subject discussing `Quality in Education` with 12 postings and 1.581 readings. The industrial metrology discussion forum has been operated for 4 months. The number of subjects discussed was 23 with 86 postings and 5.937 total readings by all participants. Participants to these discussion forums have been from academia, industry, government agencies, and business in different Arab countries. They have shown their clear interest on this approach to disseminate and share knowledge among the academic, industrial and business communities. Table 2 summarizes the categories of the participants in the discussion forums and those who contacted us through the email provided on the web-based courses.

Table 2.  Categories of people who benefit from the sites

Category

Nature of their organization

Country

Nature of use of sites

Engineering Students

Higher Education Universities and Technical Colleges

Saudi Arabia,  Palestine, Syria

Course supplement

Post-Graduate students

Higher Education Universities

Algeria, Syria,  Saudi Arabia and France

Research work (the sites helps in the translation between arabic and english)

Academic Teachers

Higher Education Universities and Technical Colleges

Egypt, Iraq

Using the sites to teach students at  university / college.

Industrial Engineers

Petroleum, Cement, Food Industries

Egypt, Oman

Practical questions. Using the sites as an industrial training program at  company.

Employees in Governmental Organizations

Government Organizations (Standards, Police)

UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Practical questions. Relevant material on the sites.

Employees in Service agencies

Service agencies (Health, Banking)

KSA, Koweit

Practical questions

Business managers

Small business managers

Saudi Arabia

Practical questions

 

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