Designing an E-Learning Curriculum

Designing an E-Learning Curriculum

Susan Gwee, Ek Ming Tan, Mingfong Jan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2.ch014
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In this chapter, the authors propose to look at the empirical findings that will be useful for instructors, who wish to improve their understanding on how to design an e-learning curriculum that will take into account the different learning needs of their engineering students. The studies surveyed in this chapter will focus on gender and game-based learning, which will offer insights as to how to improve the level of participation and learning outcomes for females in male-dominated fields. In particular, the authors will focus on gender issues and how learning in an e-learning curriculum can be designed to engage female students and to improve retention of female students. The authors propose the following change in an engineering e-learning curriculum: mixed-sex groups, use of collaborative activities, blended learning, and communication tools, and mixed-sex curriculum design team.
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Stoilescu and McDougall (2011) highlighted the presence of the gender digital divide in computer science undergraduate programs in Canada. They found that the female undergraduate students were not lacking computer resources, but what was lacking was equity in instruction with computers and opportunities to participate in the computer culture. The latter two issues gave rise to the female students’ high anxiety levels, low confidence, and ultimate underachievement. These female students needed to have more valuable experiences in the field. Stoilescu and McDougall (2011) proposed giving them more opportunities to access the computer culture in formal and informal settings. One way of improving opportunities in informal education was to allow female students to have more opportunities to practice writing code.

The current level of participation in engineering education by women is low compared to that of men. Schiebinger and Schraudner (2011) argued that although much had been done to try to achieve gender equality in educational institutions, there was the need for “gendered innovations in scientific knowledge and technology design” (p. 157). They argued that a gender analysis must be present as a control from the beginning of a project to ensure rigor in science, engineering, and medicine research, policy, and practice. In the design of an e-learning curriculum, as Schiebinger and Schraudner (2011) have pointed out, it is paramount that a checklist be created that helps technology designers to identify key gender components for operationalizing sex and gender analyses for designers. Some components suggested in the article can be applied in the design of an e-learning curriculum. These are rethinking language and visual representation, rethinking stereotypes, analyzing academic disciplines, redefining key concepts, and rethinking theory.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discourse Marker: A word or expression that indicates how one part of a discourse or conversation is connected to another.

Collaboration: The act of working jointly with others on a shared goal.

Engagement: The participation of learners in the activities offered in the course.

Communication Tools: The tools that allow learners to learn and interact with each other, and the instructor(s).

Gender: A cultural construct of femininity and masculinity as opposed to the biological sex that humans are born with.

Simulation: A miniature and controlled version of a sphere of concrete activities in real life where learners can experiment with various aspects of reality that would be impossible to examine outside of real life.

Turn-Taking: The process by which two or more people in a conversation decide who speaks next.

Blended Learning: A teaching and learning approach that combines face-to-face sessions with online activities.

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