Breaking Traditional Barriers in Teaching Computer Science/Engineering Students A.I. Al-Shamma’a General Engineering Research Institute (GERI) Liverpool John Moores University
Overview • Aims and objective for an interactive teaching • Problems & solutions • Benchmarks of effective educational practice • Interactive teaching on line • Interactive Problem Solving • The concept of e-learning
Aims and Objectives • Using the approach of interactive/real time of teaching Computer Science & Engineering students, in Engineering Education and multimedia methods, to get a chance to "do" and "understand". • This means creating a better-educated workforce, at all levels, by building on existing skills, using new science and technology-based methods and tools, such as interactive multimedia. • The goal is to improve students abilities in mathematics, computer programming and usage of computer applications tools for first year Computer Science/Engineering students.
Current Problem • Recently there has been concern over the level of mathematics ability and instruction throughout the Universities in UK and other countries. • Early in high school, students drop out of an academic mathematics sequence. • By dropping out they are unprepared to pursue careers in engineering, science, mathematics and technology.
Class Problem • Lack of Participation • Students Don’t want to be singled out • Embarrassed about giving the wrong answer • Are the students really understanding what the lecturer is teaching?
Two Components of Student Engagement • What students do -- time and energy devoted to educationally purposeful activities • What institutions do -- using effective educational practices to induce students to do the right things
Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education(Chickering & Gamson, 1987) • Student-faculty contact • Active learning • Prompt feedback • Time on task • High expectations • Respect for diverse learning styles • Cooperation among students
Principles for Good Practice in Student Affairs(Blimling & Whitt, 1999) • Engages students in active learning • Helps students build coherent values and ethical standards • Sets high expectations for learning • Uses systematic inquiry to improve student and institutional performance • Uses resources effectively to help achieve goals Builds supportive and inclusive communities
Benchmarks Level of Academic Challenge Active & Collaborative Learning Student Faculty Interaction Supportive Campus Environment Enriching Educational Experiences
Breaking the Traditional Barrier • However, at the university level, the trial approach of changing from a passive way of teaching, to an active approach where the student learns by doing. • The fundamental basis of the interactive way of teaching is the belief that an interactive/real time usage of multimedia can provide an environment in which students are actively involved and can explore mathematics, computer programming and usage of software’s with understanding.
Interactive Multimedia • Interactive multimedia combines and integrates text, graphics, animation, video and sound. It enables students to extend and enhance their skills and knowledge working at a time, pace and place to suit them as individual and/or teams and should have a range of choices about the way they might be supported and assessed. • The student has a choice and the freedom to learn. • The student is supported by the multimedia based learning materials and technology. • The instructors are creating an effective, enjoyable learning environment and infrastructure.
Some Concerns • The application of multimedia in education and training helps to make the learning process more effective and better adapted to student needs. • However, this does not automatically lead to better education. • To achieve the shift from teacher-driven to learner centred education requires, first and foremost, a change in attitudes and behaviour as well as institutional frameworks and infrastructures and this is a much slower process.
Interactive/Real Time Teaching • The interactive lecture has been conducted by describing the aims and objectives of a subject and its purpose of studies. • Teaching the students mathematics, computer programming and usage of various software’s, the lecturer will show the students step by step the procedures of learning and how to solve problem for the related subject interactively by using the interactive board and data projector. • The lecturer encourage the students to apply the information just described into working examples, homework followed by assignments.
You cannot teach a man/woman anything, you can only help him/her to find it within himself/herself. Galileo Galilei
Inquiry-Based Computer Science/Engineering Teaching Observational experiments Physical model Prediction IF-THEN Unsuccessful Testing Experiment Successful Applications: Problem solving, everyday life uses, new predictions
Technology – What is it Good for? Enhanced Experiments Problem Solving Visualization Simulations WWW Dialogue Beyond the Classroom Interactive Lessons Lectures Is it all? What else?
Interactive Teaching Online • Interaction correlated to persistence and success • Participation and involvement critical to developing learning community • Completion of on-time assignments related to interaction • Satisfaction correlated to interaction
Interactive Teaching Online • Interactive materials, assignments, and activities critical • Encourage two-way interaction between students and faculty • Encourage collaborative work • assign students to teams • form study groups
Interactive Teaching Online • Coach/support students in discussions and assignments • Emphasize time to master key knowledge and skills • Require homework, written assignments, problems, cases • Require computing, research assignments
Assessment Methods • Self-assessments • Pre-/post-assessments re: outcomes • Surveys, interviews of faculty • Evaluation of student writing and research
Assessment of Writing and Research • Assessment tools for faculty across the curriculum • Early Stage Assessment Scale • Mid-Stage Assessment • Final Stage Assessment
Technology and Multiple Representations e1 - i1 R1 - i3 R3 = 0 e2 - i2 R2 - i3 R3 = 0 i1 + i2 = i3 i1 i2 i3 R1 R2 R3 e1 e2
Active Physics Students visualize a problem, build energy bar charts, solve it, make and test predictions…
Summary • Interactive teaching engage students • Interactive teaching encourage teamwork • Interactive teaching stimulate creativity • Interactive teaching help students to extend and refine knowledge
Undergraduate Distance Specializations Accounting Behavioral and Social Sciences Business and Management Communication Studies Computer and Information Science Computer Studies English Fire Science Humanities Management Management Studies Paralegal Studies Technology and Management
Undergraduate Supporting Courses Biology Computer Applications Cooperative Education Economics Experiential Learning General Science Information Systems Management Library Skills Mathematics Psychology Spanish Speech
Organization for Course Development Development is done by teams: Curriculum Specialist Author (Faculty) Peer Reviewer (Faculty) Instructional Designer Editor, Video/Audio Specialists Graphics, Publication and Web Specialists Support services Admissions Student Services Student “Boot Camp” Faculty Training for Web Faculty Development Help Desk Distance Education Support Services
Learning Effectiveness andWeb Development • Team and individual development efforts • Course objectives and outcomes • Vision of faculty/author and peer reviewer • Instructional design versus “covering the material”
Learning Effectiveness and Web Development • Role of prepared materials versus conferencing • Stress on effective techniques for web interaction • University support structure • Learning curve and growth of demand on support structure
Some Online Resources • Technology Enabled Active Learning – TEAL http://web.mit.edu/giving/spectrum/winter04/teal-teaching.html • Physics Teaching Technology Resource - Online Videos: http://www.pt3.gse.rutgers.edu/physics/frontp.html • MIT – Open Courseware: (video of lectures) http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html • Interactive applets for teaching physics: http://www.ph.ed.ac.uk/cgi-bin/ss/main
The concept of e-Learning According to the EU Commission , “e-Learning seeks to mobilise the educational and cultural communities, as well as the economic and social players in Europe, in order to speed up changes in the education and training systems for Europe’s move to a knowledge-based society” An effective e-Learning initiative should give the students a wide range of experiences in various aspects of on-line learning, both as a supplement to traditional face-to-face courses and to support distance participation.  Communication from the Commission, “e-Learning – Designing tomorrow’s education”, Brussels, 24/5/2000
Difficulties to implement e-learning on a UK/European scene Previous knowledge: if we think on a wide target audience, we should also have in mind that UK/European students don’t receive the same kind of background education. This could be a difficulty while running a course for the teacher that has to prepare a course based on some previous knowledge, and also for the students, that would have to follow the course (they could lose motivation if they don’t understand the topic of the course, because a previous background knowledge was supposed on them).
Recognition if we are going to base our education on distant courses, we should get some kind of reward that would make it valuable for our degree. But the problem is how this is going to be recognised? up to what extent?, is it really interesting to give this reward, or the students that would use e-learning as tool should do it for the sake of their education?
Co-ordination There are too many universities around UK/Europe, with too many faculties, and manydifferent subjects that, in principle, could apply e-learning. There’s a need of a good co-ordination so the offer could be easily reachable by the students, where the information about what the course offers, and also the requirements of the course will be easily accessible. Another issue is to decide which courses could really make a good on-line course.
Motivation Motivation of students: Motivation to join the course: Specially, if the course is not recognised by the home university, why a regular student should take a course that will take him/her extra effort if there’s no way to show it in the curricula? Motivation to not give up on the course: one of the major risks of distant education is to keep up the interest of the students from the course. Motivation of teachers: Most of the teachers now don’t want to change their way to teach in order to comply with the requirements of distant learning, falling into the next mistake (or problem to implement e-learning)
Suitable subjects Not all the subjects are suitable for e-learning Not all the teachers can recycle themselves to teach using e-learning. E-learning will increase the administrativecosts: bureaucracy is one of the things to fight against. On a quick look, e-learning should really help to make bureaucracy to diminish, but, according to the existing rules now, more co-operation contracts between universities should be make.
Responsibility Students’ responsibility: we rely too much on students for avoid the risk of cheating, for not giving up on the middle of the course and for applying to courses really worthy for their future career (and not as a easy way out for getting credits and get the degree). Isolation of student: The basic problem of on-line learning is the psychological dimension. Isolation and its emotional consequences affect motivation directly. Related problems are easy distraction or sufficient lack of interest so that the learner drops out. Group dynamics are missing totally and each learner is dependent on the situational mood and the stimulation the on-line program or other distance education media provides.
Access to Technology The learners taking the course do not always have access to the newest and fastest equipment. Furthermore, they might have access to different computer systems.
Course Preparation Time consuming on the preparation of the courses: This could be a problem for the institutions that will be paying a person for that time, without being sure of the success of that course Identify the best tool on e-learning for every subject: if we assume that e-learning means using different tools than Internet (such us video conferences, PDA, Mobile communication, e-mail, open discussion forums, etc), we will have to make sure that a right combination of this tools are used on each subject according to the needs of the teaching of that subject.
Size of the Course If a course involves only a relatively small number of students, then the course designers can decide for either very high interactivity in the course, or a less expensive set-up, or something in between. As the number of learners becomes larger, the course design will either have to involve more staff and more complex computer support in order to keep a clear view on all communication going on in the course, or the interactivity-level of the course will have to be lowered, so that the same staff and technical set-up can still work.
Management of Resources Adapting materials for use (switching from traditional teaching to e-teaching): The management of on-line materials requires knowing about and using some very important skills: Knowledge of what type of resources are available on-line The skill to search efficiently and effectively for resources to find and using the various support systems for teachers on-line The skills to select, adapt and allocate resources.
Different initiatives undertaken one-learning Another point to stress out is that all of them are Internet based learning, they don’t use any other tool but Internet, and maybe email in some cases. Completely forget about video-conferences, or even chats or discussion rooms. It seems that all the initiatives on real time are left aside in despite of non-real time initiatives.