WWW-based Educational Environments for Software Engineers

Wade, V. P., Grimson, J. B. and Power, C. (1999) WWW-based Educational Environments for Software Engineers. International Journal of Engineering Education, 15 (2). pp. 130-136.


Increasing class sizes, expanding curriculum, added time pressure on students and lecturing staff, contention for library resources and study space as well as the cost of educational administration are common problems being experienced within Irish and UK universities today. To alleviate some of these pressures and to improve the overall quality of learning within a university, there is a discernible movement toward enabling and encouraging student-centred learning. Typically, a range of information technology ( IT) services are used to support learning within universities, ranging from slide preparation software, through e-mail communication between lecturers and students, to full virtual learning environments. A virtual learning environment has been developed at Trinity College Dublin, which seamlessly integrates courseware delivery, participant interaction and dialogue, access to external systems and educational management systems. This environment, which is based on World-Wide-Web technology, has been applied to the development of a course in database software engineering. The learning outcomes of students who have taken this course have been fully evaluated and compared to those of students taught using traditional teaching methods. The results show that there are tangible educational benefits to be derived, but if these are to be achieved, substantial investment of time and resources into the development of the on-line courseware is required. However, this expenditure can be justified in cases where there are large numbers of students across different degree programmes taking the course and, more particularly, where distance learning is required.

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