Using podcasts to demonstrate the use of graphical/numerical techniques in chemical engineering

Ventura-Medina, E. (2012) Using podcasts to demonstrate the use of graphical/numerical techniques in chemical engineering. In: 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, pp. 1071-1078. ISBN 9780987177230

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Abstract

BACKGROUND Numerical and graphical examples are used in lectures to model the solution of some typical problems in chemical engineering applications. These techniques are inherently dynamic and in most occasions difficult to follow by students who are trying to grasp the concepts and at the same time learn the method that they will need to use in similar calculations later. The sequence of actions and their significance of each step of the calculation are quite important but this cannot be fully appreciated when looking at the final product. Consequently, students always feel that they need more examples which are not always feasible to do with a finite lecturing time available. PURPOSE This work investigates the use of podcasts as a tool for student to learn about dynamic techniques used in problem solving. The main objective of the work was to create video podcasts that replicate the graphical and numerical methods used in solving relevant problems in the context of solid-fluid separation processes and chemical engineering fundamentals and establish if they can improve the students' learning experience and flexibility in the teaching delivery. DESIGN AND METHOD Podcasts have been designed and created around particular examples in two undergraduate courses in ChemicalEngineering; the first one is dealing with solid -fluid separation processes and second unit deals with chemical engineering fundamentals. Camtasia Studio 7® was used to produce the Podcasts which were recorded using a table PC providing a more realistic approach to the use of the graphical methods. The podcasts were delivered through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). On-line tests were also embedded in the VLE to assess competency and attainment of learning outcomes. Evaluation questionnaires were used to find about the students’ learning experience when using the podcasts for learning. RESULTS The project outcomes have been evaluated by obtaining feedback from the students using an evaluation questionnaire. The results from the questionnaire show that in general students find the podcasts beneficial for their learning and give them confidence when tackling similar problems. CONCLUSIONS In general, students found the Podcasts help them learn these techniques at their own pace and time allowing them to grasp and consolidate concept in a more effective manner. Staff also felt that the podcast have been a positive addition to the e-learning provision of the courses as they have contributed to increasing the students general engagement and interest in the subjects.