Implementing a new approach for the design of an e-learning platform in engineering education



Modern corporations, institutions, universities and schools consider e-education as a way of educating larger groups of students in less time and of reducing the use of various resources. Since setting up a web-system for e-education requires a significant amount of time, as well as the necessity of having a computer and other resources, the assessment of the goals and desired effects of the online system should be made in the preparation phase. It is important to highlight that only putting course contents on the web, without using appropriate pedagogical models and principles, without appropriate means of communication between participants and instructors and without the use of modern information technologies to present the learning content is not enough to fulfil educational goals. It should be noted that, after the substantial initial investment and excitement about the possibilities of e-education, many sources of difficulty and dissatisfaction regarding online learning have emerged. Most e-learning studies propose possible improvements in course material, with little attempt to explore the learners' dimension, context, pedagogical considerations or technology aspects. In this article, we have analysed the aspects that need to be considered when designing an e-learning platform for engineering education and we have proposed a methodology, based on the Quality Function Deployment approach, useful for the preparation phase of distance learning systems. Finally, we have explained the impact of new information technologies (Web3D technologies) on online engineering education and highlighted how these tools have been implemented in the e-learning platforms for mechanical engineering that we have developed.© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Comput Appl Eng Educ 22:708–727, 2014; View this article online at; DOI 10.1002/cae.21564