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M. Schordan, C. Kollmitzer, R. Pucher, G. Brezowar

University of Applied Sciences - Technikum Wien (AUSTRIA)
The University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien, presently is introducing study programs for online students. In the example of the Bachelor-course Electronics & Business an existing course was completely redesigned to fulfill the requirements of an online course. The current paper describes the methods used.
Studying online is a difficult task. In many cases students tend to assume that online degree programs need less effort than similar traditional programs. This misbelieve can lead to very early drop outs. When designing a course much care has to be taken to present the content in a motivating way. Also the content has to be structured to support learning principles of humans.
The Bachelor-course Electronics & Business is a three year distance study degree program, which allows studying anytime and anywhere. The curriculum offers the combination of technology and business knowledge. It combines online phases lasting several weeks with short, compact on-campus phases: Starting with a two-day on-campus phase at the beginning of each academic year including an orientation session (introduction to the program, curriculum, learning objectives, teaching methods, organization, learning platform) and personal introductions. It is followed by two seven-week online phases (twice per semester) in which the course material is covered interactively with the personal guidance of professors and eTutors. The program works with the web-based learning platform Moodle, which is easy to use and offers a high degree of flexibility and many possibilities for customization. Each of the two online phases is followed by another two-day on-campus phase in which students participate in exercises or take written tests. The bachelor’s degree examination is taken during the final on-campus phase in the sixth semester.
Traditional courses require students to move step by step through exercises with increasing difficulty. Programming is best learned by writing programs, and therefore programming exercises always form an essential part in a programming course. In an on-line course, the students' progress can be easily brought to a halt if they misguide themselves into a direction where they believe that a certain solution to a programming exercise is "good enough" - but in fact is error-prone, having errors in specific cases. It is therefore paramount for the steady progress that students get tools that allow them to judge immediately at which level of quality their programs are. We therefore support students in judging their own programs by offering an automated testing environment that performs a thorough test of their programs regarding the input/output behavior of the programs and performs some further tests on the software metrics of the written programs.

The course modules provide lecture materials with references to a single book with extensive knowledge about the programming language C, exact descriptions of the programming exercises with specifications of the in/output behavior of the exercise programs, the basic test-suite for the first hand in and the complete test-suite for the re-handin, and videos for each learning unit. For each video the slides are provided as well.
keywords: online course.