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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


The Virtual Classroom Technology for Post-Degree Engineering Education

Dr. Ella A Akkerman.

A significant part of engineering science post-degree (MSc) students combines their work with continuation of the studies. Application of the new e-learning technologies allows an essential improvement of the educational process for this category of students.
This article presents results of our project intended for adoption of the Virtual Classroom technology into the practice of interdisciplinary courses for post-degree engineering education. The formation of courses was done using HighLearn (HL) software from Britannica Knowledge System Ltd.
The pedagogical model for learning interdisciplinary courses currently used is based on synchronous methodologies, that apply to the WEB technology only for bibliography references the material adoption and/or illustrating materials. In this case the quality of learning became a function of:
1) the instructor's WEB competence, lecture dependence of primarily student's level of knowledge, lack of flexible feedback of the material adoption;
2) the student’s dependence for the learning place and time, lack of recording live lessons etc.
We propose to reconsider the existing teaching methodology of some courses, using the outstanding capabilities of the HL. All of the courses related to learning of software's for different applications (for example: "Software for statistical applications", "Software application in mathematical programming" for industrial engineers) and another courses should be divided into two parts.
The first part brings all students to the same level of starting knowledge and has to be done interactively using fully virtual lessons, including conversational audio and live video, 3D graphics and fully on-line tests, practice and examinations as well.
The second part is based on mixed-initiative dialog, which combines classroom meetings and on-line forums, and chats.
Application of this approach in the frame of Virtual Classroom provide new advantages for the:
teacher - to use a broader range of instructional techniques comparing to the physical classroom, and to increase the flexibility and mastering of the course due to better verification of the level of the lecture mastering of each student;
student - to be more adaptive to the new subjects using of the unlimited self-improving possibilities, collaborative communication, and unique recording capabilities, which enables the studying to take place anytime, and anywhere.


Dr. Ella A Akkerman  (Israel)
e-learning consultant
Computational Center
Ben-Gurion University in the Negev

  • HighLearn (HL) software,
  • post-degree engineering education,
  • practice of interdisciplinary courses

(30 min Conference Paper, English)