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UW professors get grants to engage technology for course delivery

Madison, Wis. -- UW-Madison Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Steve Cramer and Engineering Physics professor Jake Blanchard have both received approximately $40,000 from the John and Jean Berndt Technology-Enhanced Learning Initiative to develop innovative teaching approaches.

Cramer, professor Hussain Bahia, program assistant Carole Kraak and staff from Engineering Media Services will convert the three-credit Materials for Constructed Facilities course required for all civil and environmental engineering civil and environmental engineering majors, from a traditional 50-minute faculty lecture into online modules.

The new method of delivery will enable students to pursue course content in a less rigid format, allowing them to control when and how they study to achieve the course objectives, says Cramer. In addition, it will bring the course more into line with its laboratory, which incorporates online demonstration media clips that serve as an online multimedia laboratory manual, he says.

"Since we believe faculty-to-student contact is still an important aspect of undergraduate learning, this contact will occur in the laboratory sessions," he says. "We expect to shift laboratory instruction to higher-level problem solving with more basic material presented online."

Cramer hopes the new format will be available beginning in spring 2006.
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Working with Engineering Professional Development faculty associate Tom Smith and John Stremikis in UW-Extension/EPD information systems, Blanchard is developing course tools for delivering a master of engineering in professional practice course via handheld devices. He, too, plans to pilot the course in spring 2006 and says the group chose this delivery method because on-campus and distance students increasingly are using these tools for other applications.

"Allowing them to use and develop course materials on these devices will be efficient," says Blanchard. "They will appreciate the flexibility offered by the devices' portability because they will be able to 'study' anywhere, anytime."

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