Engaging learners on-line

Filming at Quarry Bank Mill

Filming at Quarry Bank Mill

The Everyday Engineering Examples page of this blog continue to be very popular.  More than 70 engineering schools in the USA have signed up to use this approach to teaching engineering science as part of the ENGAGE project.  The lesson plans on that page assist instructors to deliver traditional lectures that are engaging and effective.  Now, we have transferred the approach to online delivery in a MOOC that was designed to support undergraduate learning as well as to increase public engagement and understanding of engineering science.

The MOOC entitled ‘Energy: Thermodynamics in Everyday Life‘ was completed by more than 960 learners from about 35 countries who ranged in age from 13 to 78 years old with a correspondingly wide range of qualifications in terms of both subject and level.  I believe that this is the first MOOC to use Everyday Engineering Examples within a framework of the 5E lesson plans and it seems to have been effective because the completion rate was 50% higher than the average for FutureLearn MOOCs.

We also included some experiments for MOOC learners to do at home in their kitchen.  Disappointingly only a quarter of learners performed the experiments but surprisingly almost half of all learners(46%) reported that the experiments contributed to their understanding of the topics.  This might be because results and photos from the experiments were posted on a media wall by learners.  There was also a vibrant discussion throughout the five-week course with a comment posted every 8 minutes (or more than 6,500 comments in total).

More than half the undergraduates (53%) who followed the MOOC did not continue to attend the traditional lectures and roughly the same percentage agreed or agreed strongly that the MOOC could replace the traditional lecture course with only 11% disagreeing.  So maybe the answer to my question about death knell for lectures [see my post ‘Death Knell for the lecture?‘ on October 7th, 2015] is that I can hear the bell tolling.

I gave a Pecha Kucha 20×20 on these developments at an International Symposium on Inclusive Engineering Education in London last month, which is available as a short video.

7 thoughts on “Engaging learners on-line

  1. electromagneticfluid

    Eann Patterson you are pretty well spot on.
    I was one that commented a fair bit on your Educator MOOC Thermal Dynamics in everyday life.You brought it down as simple as possible for any one to understand but then with that impressive looking through a glass blackboard wrote so its the right way up for your students to see as you explained the mathematics behind it.

    Very surprised at the reply results you have tabulated = wow !
    I was also one who had no cash flow at the time for some of your experiments due to only 4.5 hours of work = no chance 🙂
    But I was able to view it in other ways and get the gist of how things worked and remember I was doing Higgs Boson MOOC and Numeracy for Unemployment MOOC and Basic Science MOOC and The Enterprise Shed to get ideas into Reality MOOC so I was over busy:)

    Yes I was one that could not follow the traditional course as I am 58 add 4-5 years of Uni then 65 years of age how do you get any one to employ a person to work until 70ish invest in them for 4-5 years if their health holds up is a very serious world wide issue.

    On the online full Course say as in Thermal Dynamics is possible for it to become a full worldwide MOOC System of the future.
    Each course will have to im my personal point of view is to follow your online class method and also Higgs Boson course I believe between these two very complicated (ok basic for now ) courses with the way they were delivered will be the way of the future.
    I could not do these Courses of either Thermal Dynamics or Higgs Boson because one has to be able to get into classes in England to complete the full course!
    Trust me if I could afford it I would be over there like a shot after brushing up on my maths a bit more 🙂

    On word press I am also investing my time to comment on how do we keep MOOCS cheap enough but fair enough to educate the whole world!
    Not every one has an Internet connection the costs are high enough then the pc then electricity.
    Then like China and other Countries how can we get lessons done if they suddenly do not want you to teach in that style or use a certain word and block off your lessons via some great Firewall because history has to be taught on how Thermal Dynamics came about in Science and Physics and some country or a persons name or a chemical name is not allowed for some unforeseen reason!
    MOOCS need to take this into account as well.

    Cheers Allan

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