EXPLORING THE USE OF “I-LEARN” PLATFORM FOR MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEACHING OF BUILT ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMMES
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor (MALAYSIA)
For built environment undergraduate programmes, involving courses such as Architecture, Quantity Surveying, Building and Construction Management, multi-disciplinary teaching in courses such as "Final Projects" or "Applied Studies" are highly encouraged to familiarise the students with real-life practice where construction projects usually involve all the disciplines. The need for a collaborative approach in the teaching of certain subjects, especially towards the final year, is usually hindered particularly by the size of the student population and the students’ placement, where the disciplines are placed in separate faculties or even located in different geographical location on separate campuses, making it difficult in terms of the logistics of setting up classes for a collaborative module. This is a real problem for Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), the largest university in Malaysia, with its one main campus in Shah Alam, 13 autonomous state campuses and 21 satellite campuses, spread across west (Peninsular) and east (Borneo) Malaysia. Even the Built Environment courses are taught in several campuses - Shah Alam, Perak, Perlis and Sarawak. i-learn was developed as the learning management system for e-learning in UiTM and acts as a platform that supports the teaching and learning process within the university. E-learning is seen as relevant as it could improve flexibility in terms of obtaining and delivery of knowledge, by the use of technology, mainly through web-based contents and online learning activities. The methodology adopted for this research in identifying potential areas of improvement within each element of i-learn (i.e. course information, course content, support materials, assignment/project, assessment, course forum) is through content analysis of interview data of BSc Degree students and instructors using the portal. Preliminary findings indicate that i-learn, for the majority, is still used more as a way of disseminating course information/ content and assignment, rather than realising its full potential for collaborative teaching and learning. This, in part, is due to the “course forum” element not being as effective for real-time interaction between students and instructors, which is important if discussions are to take place on-line.