A Blended Course to Teach Graphical Programming Using LabVIEW

A Blended Course to Teach Graphical Programming Using LabVIEW

Yücel Uğurlu (Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4912-5.ch022
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In this chapter, the authors introduce a blended learning approach where LabVIEW, an e-learning environment, was integrated into a traditional graphical programming course for engineering students to teach advanced topics and to increase the programming skills of the students. In this course, the students were required to design projects using technology. The students designed small projects and frequently accessed the e-learning system to build real-world applications. The projects that students designed stimulated them to use the e-learning system. The impact of blended learning was evaluated on the basis of student surveys and certification test results. Experimental studies show that blended learning produced higher results in the students’ self-assessment and certification test.
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Over the last decade, learning environments have changed considerably. Gone are the days when the only learning option was a face-to-face classroom experience, where the teacher came in and delivered a lesson or lecture on the topic of the day. Today, learning options include traditional, blended, and fully online education. To teach in these environments, educators have adopted a variety of pedagogical strategies and innovative technologies to enable better learning in higher education (Nistal, 2011; Macias, 2012; Maloy, 2010). The face-to-face strategies have been combined with technological tools and e-learning processes to form blended courses. Currently, 93% of higher institutions say they use blended learning strategies. Furthermore, they expect more than 40% of their courses to be blended by 2020 (Werf & Sabatier, 2009).

It is important to note that both components of blended education (traditional and online) have their benefits and challenges. In fact, no single learning environment is suitable for all learning needs. Educators who are interested in offering blended instruction need to be aware that they will probably require various learning technologies in addition to traditional methods in providing an optimal learning experience that meets the needs of all students. A blended learning program combines e-learning and traditional learning methods (Bonk & Graham, 2005). Like many advances in educational practice, blended learning is defined and implemented in multiple ways. Statistics show that a number of schools and instructors have adopted blended learning, and the number has been increasing (Allen & Seaman, 2008). As more schools have adopted blended instruction, several different forms and practical usages have evolved. Many educators believe that blended learning is the best solution to today’s educational challenges (Mendez & Gonzalez, 2011; Hadjerrouit, 2008; Hoic-Bozic, 2009).

To gain clarity and a deeper understanding of blended learning, there is a strong need to share the best practices in blended education. Additionally, investigating the impact of blended teaching and learning is extremely important. In this way, we can decide the best way technology can be used in the classroom and understand how it will affect student learning (Golden, 2006; Mohammad, 2012; Zhanga, 2006). Several studies have found that e-learning is as effective as or better than the traditional university class structure (Cybinski & Selvanathan, 2005; Gao & Lehman, 2003; Ho & Kuo, 2010). On the other hand, the results can vary according to the content taught, delivery method of the digital content, e-learning integration techniques, and motivation of students (Hasegawa, 2013). Therefore, more studies are required in order to completely understand the overall impact of blended learning in any discipline, particularly in engineering education. Engineering education has to deal with multiple levels of intelligence requiring intensive and one-on-one interaction with the instructor. Engineering students must be able to work across many different disciplines and fields and make the connections that will lead to deeper insights, more creative solutions, and the capacity to get things done.

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