Using e-Learning to Deliver Robotic Material Course

Industrial Robotics is a core module being taught to the final year students in the Mechatronics Engineering course. This core module consist many abstract principles and concepts, which are needed in solving problems such as an industrial robot programming. To ensure that students are able to grasp the concepts and apply the principles to solve authentic programming problems, students should be allowed to observe different types of robots in action. However, the cost of acquiring all the necessary robots is high and thus not practical nor possible to provide students with all the robots needed for effective learning.

The lecturers must stick to traditional methods of drawing simple diagrams on the whiteboard and using PowerPoint presentations with static graphics to illustrate the concepts and principles, and to explain the various programming methods. Where robots were available, students were given the opportunities to engage in activities that require them to apply these principles, concepts, and programming methods.

Lecturers found it a great challenge to prepare students for the real work situation with the limited number and type of robots available as teaching aids,. In addition, preparing students effectively for both the theory and practical was an issue.

When e-learning gained more widespread adoption in the organization, the decision was made to deliver the theory component of this module through e-learning as it was felt that the capabilities of technology could be the solution to this problem of lack of robots as teaching aids. Dynamic simulations and visuals made possible by technology could be used to help students relate abstract content, such as the programming of robots to real experiences. Animated visuals could provide explicit demonstrations of dynamic processes and help to reduce the cognitive load imposed on learners by maintaining visual coherence. Simulations, defined as a presentation or model of an event, an object, or some phenomenon, could provide students with the realistic model of robots, as well as representation of related real-world phenomena, helping them to better visualize abstract concepts, thereby fostering conceptual learning. Through such instructional simulation, students could gain a better understanding of the real robotic system, problem-solving process or real work application.

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