Improving and Expanding Engineering Education in the Middle East and Africa Using Mobile Learning Technology and Innovative Pedagogy
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Recent innovations in inexpensive and portable laboratory instruments have enabled new pedagogical approaches in the teaching of theoretical concepts and design practices in electrical engineering (EE). Faculty members at six universities in the USA have pioneered the use of these new tools to incorporate hands-on experimental activities into existing lecture courses. This has led to restructured EE courses with a focus on student-centered learning and not instructor-centered lectures. The goal of this effort has been to evaluate whether a more student-centered learning environment can stimulate a deeper understanding of EE principles and increase student engagement. The use of hands-on experiments started with an introductory electric circuits course and has expanded into physics, biology, and higher level EE courses. Several modes of instruction using this technology and pedagogy have been implemented at different institutions. In the blended approach, the classroom experience is a combination of lectures and hands-on activities using the mobile laboratory instruments to reinforce theoretical concepts. For the second instructional model, the inverted or flipped classroom, students are expected to read material at home, prior to their investigation of the concepts via hands-on activities in the classroom. A third model uses the portable laboratory instruments to complete hands-on activities outside of the classroom as homework problems, design projects, and/or a nontraditional laboratory component.
This chapter presents our experiences and results with developing and delivering the first completely online electrical and computer engineering curriculum in the State of Maryland using portable laboratory instruments. The use of these state-of-the-art technologies and collaborations between higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa can provide cost-effective and targeted training to college and university teachers while they remain in their native countries. They will, in turn, be in a position to educate and produce graduates that can best meet the need for trained engineers to address national challenges. Preliminary results from our current collaboration with five universities in Ethiopia will illustrate how cooperation and collaboration can be very beneficial to higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
KeywordsMENA Online learning Online course delivery Mobile studio board Electrical and computer engineering laboratories Synchronous online delivery Asynchronous online delivery Assessment framework
The authors would like to thank the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) at RPI for their financial support.
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