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As the proliferation of IT resouces in the recent years have made significant impact on teaching and learning methodologies, we now present to you a two-part discussion on IT in Education Today. In theis first part - IT in Education Today I, we discuss various issues in educational applications of IT and the actual usage of IT in one of the University's courses. In the next part - IT in Educational Today II (Vol. 4 No. 4), we will feature discussion on the usage of IT in teaching and assessment.

August 2001, Vol. 4 No. 3 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Any Time, Any Place Learning:
Redefining the Classroom for EG1104
C.M. Wang and K.K. Ang
Department of Civil Engineering

Some features of EG1104

  1. Participatory workshop-lectures for active learning
  2. Advanced web-based iTutorial system
  3. NUS WebCast lectures
  4. Inquiry-based tutorials
  5. Assessment

As the Faculty of Engineering moves towards the new learning paradigm, courses may have to be taught differently from past practices in order to emphasise student-centred learning rather than teacher-centred teaching. Here we share some modifications to the way we teach the course module EG1104 Statics. This course, taken by some 1200 engineering and cross-faculty students, now has the following features:

1. Participatory workshop-lectures for active learning, even with a large class size of 400 students per session. Peer instruction via buzz groups are encouraged in class by posing concept quizzes and thought-provoking puzzles at regular intervals during lectures. Printed lecture notes with critical information left out on purpose allow students to discover and learn during the workshop-lecture as they actively work through their notes. It is important to note that the contents of the lecture have to be pruned judiciously to allow for such participatory lectures.

2. Advanced web-based iTutorial system for learning anywhere, anytime. The web-based tutorials have advanced diagnostic capabilities to assist students to learn independently and at their own pace. By programming the lecturers’ experiences into the tutorial system, common mistakes can be intelligently pointed out by the system with further clues provided to entice students to think further on how to solve the iTutorial problem. To discourage copying, the numbers used in the tutorial questions are randomised and are unique for each student. Students are, however, encouraged to collaborate and solve the problems together if they prefer to do so. The web-based tutorial system also allows the lecturers to monitor the students’ performance in the tutorials at a glance so that students who are lagging behind may be identified at an early stage despite the huge class size. Based on a survey held at the end of the course, students have found the system friendly and easy-to-use. Some comments on web-based iTutorials obtained from a student survey include:

“…the idea of iTutorial is very good. It makes students keep pace with what is being taught and should be adopted in other modules…”;

“…iTutorials are good for foundation building…”; and

“…it is a very good scheme. I really enjoyed learning Statics. If not for the iTutorials, I may not have learnt Statics well…”.

Click here for examples of iTutorial questions.

3. NUS WebCast lectures combined with the use of an innovative IT product that allows one to literally write over an LCD monitor touch screen with a digitising pen, enabling students to see the lecturer writing virtually over PowerPoint slides. In a survey, it was found that students gave an overwhelming preference to the use of such an editable PowerPoint system over conventional transparencies/non-editable PowerPoint slides. By webcasting lectures, students are accorded the convenience of being able to ‘attend’ lectures anywhere within the campus. Such lectures are also archived and deposited into the University’s multimedia-on-demand server so that students can review portions of the lectures if necessary to reinforce their understanding of topics that were perhaps found difficult to grasp during the actual lecture.

Click here for a view of WebCast lectures.

4. Inquiry-based tutorials that provide opportunities for students to develop their inquiry skill that is so essential for life-long learning. Questions in these tutorials are designed to provoke questioning from the students due to their vagueness, open-ended nature, life-like and novel problems. In these tutorials, the students are encouraged to spar with their tutors and among themselves. Based on a survey, about 60% of the student population strongly agree that the inquiry-based tutorial questions do stimulate innovative and creative thinking.

Click here for an example of inquiry-based tutorial questions.

5. Assessment consisting of three open-book quizzes (25%), one exploratory laboratory experiment (5%), web-based tutorials (10%) and an open book examination (65%).


The course lecturers of EG 1104 are grateful to the educational development team of CITA Engineering for assisting in the development of the iTutorial system.

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Any Time, Any Place Learning: Redefining the Classroom for EG1104
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