INTEGRATING BLENDED LEARNING – ON THE WAY TO AN EXCELLENT DIDACTICAL METHOD-MIX FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION
Trends and circumstances of university education have changed vastly in the last years. Constantly growing student numbers, necessity of on-professional competences especially in engineering education and new technical possibilities have influenced the development of prevailing and new didactical concepts. To be able to cope with these circumstances a didactical set, which combines as many benefits (self-learning centred exercises, interaction-time with other students) as possible from different methods would be preferred. Therefore, different didactical concepts so far used and proven at a single time are combined and integrated with the objective to enhance the quality of engineering education.
This new approach comes into operation within the lecture “KOE” (Communication and Organisation Development), which is frequented by up to 1,400 students in the first semester of the faculty of mechanical engineering and inherent part of the bachelor-curriculum at RWTH Aachen University.
After defining goals for restructuring from a Blended Learning perspective, the traditional and content-orientated lecture was redesigned in the winter term 2012/2013 and enhanced by implementing the flipped classroom concept with a board for discussion in the winter term 2013/2014. Here students can access relevant learning documents via an online platform (called L²P) and make use of the board for discussion in terms of a participatory interaction event.
The design of the lecture is based on the cube model by Baumgartner & Payr, which combines different perspectives and levels of a diverse teaching approach and addresses the students in various learning forms by three dimensions: Learning goals, learning content and teaching strategies. The “KOE” lecture was evaluated twice (beside the common university-wide evaluation for lectures, the Blended Learning approach was assessed explicitly) and practical oriented elements were rated very positively. Making use of the cube model as well as the results of the evaluation led to an identification of further demands. Following these demands, the related lab tutorial (one of the didactical concepts) starting in the upcoming winter term will be redesigned. Students are supposed to work in a fictional enterprise engaging in mechanical engineering and thereby different duty cycles shall be simulated. The overall objective is to construct a production robote using Lego Mindstorms.
Based on the applied cube model, this paper formulates the current didactical method-mix, presents demands identified by recent evaluation and introduces developments and optimisation activities following the Blended Learning approach for engineering education.