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Use of web-conferencing software to enhance practical learning for distance students in a first-year Engineering course

conference contribution
posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by John LongJohn Long, Kenneth Chenery, Warren Stannard, Kristine FitzgeraldKristine Fitzgerald
BACKGROUND : For many years, Deakin University has delivered an accredited undergraduate engineering course by means of distance education. One of the chief challenges is to provide the necessary practical instruction and experience in engineering to these students. In first-year physics and first-year materials science, off-campus students normally attend on-campus lab classes either on a Saturday or as part of a residential school. However, because some students live either interstate or overseas, it is sometimes impossible for small groups of students to attend an on-campus lab class. PURPOSE : This paper investigates whether web-conferencing software can be an effective means for delivering practical classes to small groups of distance students in first-year physics and also first-year materials. METHOD : Over three semesters in 2012, we employed the Elluminate-Live! software platform to broadcast six lab practicals in first-year physics, and one practical in first-year materials engineering. The students submitted practical reports as did all the other students in each unit. The students in each unit fell into three groups: on-campus students, off-campus students who performed their practicals on-campus, and off-campus students who performed their practicals “virtually” via an Elluminate-Live! session. RESULTS : The trials showed that it is possible to broadcast both physics and materials practical classes by means of web-conferencing software. Report marks of the students performing practicals by this method were comparable to those in the other groups. CONCLUSIONS : Our experience with four initial trials in delivering practical classes over the Internet was encouraging, and showed that the concept will work if done in an effective way.



Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Conference : (24th : 2013 : Gold Coast, Qld)


1 - 10


Griffith School of Engineering, Griffith University


Gold Coast, Queensland

Place of publication

Brisbane, Qld.

Start date


End date






Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed


C Lemckert, G Jenkins, S Lang-Lemckert

Title of proceedings

AAEE 2013 : Proceedings of the 24th 2013 Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference

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