Application of Technology in Project-Based Distance Learning
Ali Mehrabian, Karla Alvarado, Isabelina Nahmens
Present technology and the accessibility of internet have made distance learning easier, more efficient, and more convenient for students. This technology allows instructors and students to communicate asynchronously, at times and locations of their own choosing, by exchanging printed or electronic information. The use of project-based approach is being recognized in the literature as a potential component of courses in the faculties of engineering, science, and technology. Instructors may have to restructure their course differently to accommodate and facilitate the effectiveness of distance learning.
A project-based engineering course, traditionally taught in a classroom settings using live mode at the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of Central Florida (UCF) has been transformed to a distance course taught using distance modes. In this case, pedagogical transitions and adjustments are required, in particular for obtaining an optimal balance between the course material and the project work. Project collaboration in groups requires communication, which is possible with extensive utilization of new information and communication technology, such as virtual meetings. This paper discusses the course transition from live to distance modes and touches on some issues as they relate to the effectiveness of this methodology and the lessons learned from its application within different context. More specifically, this discussion includes the benefit of implementing project-based work in the domain of the distance learning courses.