Application of graphical user interface technology to learning and teaching in engineering education

Shyr Wen-jye
National Changhua University of Education

Application of technology to learning and teaching could enrich and enhance the curricula. Most applications are currently available through a friendly environment created by means of a Graphical User Interface (GUI). In this paper, the development of a photosensor experimental module based on the GUI system is presented. This system is integration graphical monitoring and control with several different optoelectronic devices. In this system, the students can understand not only the characteristics, functions and applications of different photosensors, but they also learn to use the graphical monitoring and control system. In advance, the students can design graphical monitor programs to monitor and control the different photosensor modules. Students learn, verify and understand lecture concepts by performing different photosensor experiments in the laboratory. They work in teams, design and implement their photosensor systems, and demonstrate their experimental results in an oral presentation. The major part of the system is dedicated to implementing the photosensor experimental module based on the GUI system in laboratory sessions. The importance of students taking their time over 'active learning' by making experiments is as important as taking their time over 'passive learning' through attending lectures.

The purpose of this paper is to emphasize that taking advantage of these GUIs can provide valuable support for teaching, i.e. they enable us to investigate different methodologies. The best way to explain this point of view is by examples. This system could easily change the application mode to the other sensors. This system can also shorten the gap between university education and industrial applications.

Students were asked to evaluate the experimental module in a survey taken at the end of the semester. Students felt that they were able to learn more effectively in a practice-oriented photosensor and GUI technology environment. The design project, even though it was time consuming, was very well received by the students. Students completing this system had a real feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment since they realized that they had actually designed and constructed a photosensor experimental module based on a GUI system. The negative aspect of the evaluations was the amount of time required for the design project at a time when demands of other courses were also high -- at the end of the semester. The students have suggested that the design project be assigned earlier in the semester to mitigate this problem.