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B. Petendra1, N. Kälberer2, R. Kurz1, B. Hoppe1

1Hochschule Darmstadt (GERMANY)
2Hochschule Aschaffenburg (GERMANY)
This paper deals with the development and evaluation of e-learning concepts for non-traditional students in an electrical engineering bachelor`s study program within the research project “Open e-University” funded by the BMBF initiative “upward mobility through academic training: open universities”. Contrary to regular study programs, these non-traditional students don’t have a formal high school degree, or graduation was long ago. However, they are qualified and experienced through their jobs being skilled workers, technicians, or master craftsmen in electrical engineering. While studying, these students stay in their jobs. Therefore they have special needs concerning the instructional design as well as organizational and time aspects.

The research project takes the diversity of this target group and their special needs of location-independent and time-independent learning into account. Based on a previous target-group survey and subsequent analysis [1, 2], various didactic approaches and technologies were used [3, 4]. As a result, the bachelor’s study program is based on a blended-learning concept with extended self-study phases and short phases of attendance on campus. In combination with a textbook, e-learning offerings made available through the learning management system moodle are an integral part of the concept. A variety of subject-specific e-Learning features was developed: e.g. short explanatory videos which can be quickly reached via QR codes, webinar consultation hours in the evening, screen recordings of lectures in the classroom, interactive applets, online exercises including solutions, video examples showing engineering solutions from a practical point of view. As a standard feature, a discussion forum was offered.

The evaluation presented in the paper focuses on the effectiveness of the chosen e-learning concepts and the usefulness of the tools to support distance learning. The evaluation results show that despite the diversity of the students all offered e-learning materials were well received. Especially explanatory videos combined with the textbook and online exercises were rated as very helpful. One success factor is that these e-learning concepts address the students’ professional experiences. Another one is the self-assessment effect witch fosters students’ motivation especially during the initial study phase. Altogether, the self-study phases are well supported through the implemented subject-specific e-learning elements; they help to compensate the sparse attendance phases with in-class training. On the other hand, there remain challenges concerning technical problems that interfere with effective distance learning.

The developed e-learning concepts and the evaluation results will be reported in detail in this paper.

[1] Müller, A. L., Kurz, R. & Hoppe, B. (2013). Development of a Distance Learning Concept for a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Procedia, Social and Behavioral Sciences 93, 1484-1488.
[2] Böhmer, C., Roznawski, N., Meuth, H. & Beck-Meuth, E. (2013). Designing a blended-learning Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering for non-traditional students. In IEEE (Hrsg.), Proceedings Global Engineering Education Conference, IEEE EDUCON 201. (S. 924–927).
[3] Kerres, M. (2012). Mediendidaktik. Konzeption und Entwicklung mediengestützter Lernangebote. München: Oldenbourg.
[4] Bates, A. W. (2005). Technology, E-learning and Distance Education. London: Routledge.