“It’s part-time - but not as we know it!” - an evaluation of a flexible learning MEng

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Humphries-Smith, Tania Maxine; Benjamin, Christopher
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Bournemouth University, United Kingdom
Section: Design Education in Industry
Page(s): 210-215
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


This paper reports on the evaluation of the effectiveness of the principles of delivery of a new flexible learning MEng (Hons) Engineering course at Bournemouth University (BU). The course was developed as part of a Higher Education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (HESTEM) National Programme project and provides an opportunity for engineers to take higher education qualifications while remaining in full time employment. The first cohort have all progressed from part time, day release Foundation degree Science (FdSc’s) at either another Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Bournemouth & Poole College (BPC) to take units at final year honours level. The development of online units for the MEng programme has been based on the Constructivist approach to learning and the delivery mechanism uses online learning materials delivered via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The paper details how each unit of study begins with a full day face to face tutorial on campus enabling an introduction to the subject as well as allowing ‘faces to be put to names’ thus mitigating the dehumanizing effect of pure online learning. It describes and evaluates how effective this is in ‘kick starting’ the student to student relationship that is essential for an effective learning community to develop. The paper also evaluates how the use of both staff/student and student/student online forums, throughout all units, allows for this community to further develop and enhance the learning experience.
The paper concludes that the implementation of a constructivist approach to learning has been very successful for this new course and first cohort of students. This has enabled students to make the necessary transition and has resulted in a good depth of learning and engagement.

Keywords: Flexible learning, engineering, MEng, virtual learning environment, online learning


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