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Revamped course engages students through active learning, technology

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Sometimes explaining isn’t enough to achieve the desired impact on student learning, but doing can make a difference for students – even in courses traditionally taught in large lecture halls.

That was the thinking driving Assistant Professor Regena Scott’s course redesign of IT 230, an introductory course on industrial supply chain management. As a fall 2012 IMPACT faculty fellow, Scott and graduate assistant Christine Witt worked together to retool two 60-student sections to ramp up classroom engagement by refining course objectives, incorporating real-world skill development and adopting proven instructional technologies with the help of ITaP educational technologists.

The changes resulted in enhanced learning opportunities, such as interactive gaming and competitive simulations, for Scott’s students, many of whom now walk away from the course with a better sense of how a supply chain works.

“We decided to adopt a flipped class structure where students view videos, lecture materials and case studies outside of class through the course site on Blackboard Learn,” says Scott, an assistant professor in the Department of Technology, Leadership and Innovation. “This means students come to class already prepared to apply those concepts.”

Scott’s classes meet in a transformed classroom in Hicks Undergraduate Library redesigned to facilitate small group work. During class, students collaborate on projects that demonstrate course concepts. Projects range from creating a process flow chart about their life goals, to refining small-group assembly lines, to delivering a class presentation on an actual company’s supply chain.

One such learning module involves the use of a simulation software program designed to teach students how to manage a supply chain using SAP business management software, a leading enterprise resource planning tool used by many Fortune 500 companies.

Working together on laptop computers, the six-member student teams are placed in the driver’s seat of a simulated supply chain, collaborating to manage water distribution through three regions of a country while competing against other teams in the class during the timed exercise. Over the course of three class sessions, students learn by experimenting, cooperating and refining their decision making on product purchases, distribution costs and profit margins. (A video of the simulation is available to view here.)

“The general observation is that students are much more engaged with the material and with each other,” Scott says. “Students will actually stay after class to talk about what happened during the simulation. They see the real-world application, and some have told me they’ve been asked about SAP software in job interviews.”

While redesigning the course, Scott consulted ITaP educational technologists Akesha Horton and Adam Hagan, who recommended several instructional technologies that reinforced course learning objectives and gave useful suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of content uploaded to Blackboard Learn.

“Everything was new to us, but ITaP’s educational technologists were good at clarifying,” Scott says. “Adam and Akesha were instrumental in identifying the learning outcomes and course goals, and we’re planning on implementing several of the technology tools they recommended in future versions of the course.”

Those recommendations included adopting the team-management tool CATME, a faculty-developed application designed to evaluate individual members of student teams based on user-specified data. Scott and Witt also have designs on enhancing lecture videos and SAP training modules using the screen recording tool Camtasia Studio, which allows for easy video tutorial creation and editing.

For more information on implementing active learning principles in the classroom using instructional technology, contact ITaP’s educational technologists at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu.

Writer: Jonathan Hines, technology writer, ITaP, 765-496-7998, hines18@purdue.edu

Sources: Regena Scott, assistant professor in the Department of Technology, Leadership and Innovation, rlscott@purdue.edu

Christine Witt, graduate student in the Department of Technology, Leadership and Innovation, wittcm@purdue.edu

Akesha Horton, senior educational technologist, ITaP, 765-496-3499, akesha@purdue.edu

Adam Hagen, educational technologist, ITaP, 765-496-2015, hagenab@purdue.edu

Last updated: May 17, 2013