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Abstract: Context: Technology has played an important role in the provision of educational equity for learners in Australian communities. Engaging off-campus students through technology resources is vital for a virtual learning environment in engineering education. To ensure a positive experience for the students in off-campus (virtual) learning, the use of modern technology is crucial for collaborative and active learning.

Purpose: Design based education is a combination of project based and problem based approaches. Through small or big projects, students work in teams with combinations of off-campus and on-campus students. Integration of technology resources takes place within these groups through collaborative learning and active learning. Even though the facilities and technology support are provided for offcampus students, there is always a gap in fulfilling the off-campus students' learning expectations in a virtual learning environment. Technology plays an important role in providing student engagement in solving design problems, which is a need for the distance learner community in future. The purpose of this study is to evaluate students' experiences on the use of technology in learning and teaching, which is delivered in off-campus mode.

Approach: The cohorts of students involved in this online survey are from first year undergraduate engineering in Trimester 2, 2016. The online survey analysis of students' perceptions will help teaching staff to better understand and assess off-campus students' experiences, challenges and barriers in a virtual learning environment.

Results: The distance learners' experiences are analysed from an online survey. This online survey analyses the students' experiences on use of technology and how it supports and enhances students learning in distance mode. It also analyses the student learning experiences on project/design-based learning approach in engineering. In this particular unit (Electrical Systems), students work in teams of 2-3 on lab work and other assignments. The analysed results also discuss the students' perceptions on teamwork, communication, interaction and assessment.

Conclusions: The aim of the engineering curriculum is to provide learning and teaching support equally for both oncampus and off-campus students. From the analysed survey results, this study reveals that the use of technology plays a vital role in students learning from availability and accessibility of materials to assessment methods, lab tutorials, and online seminars. In a project/design based learning curriculum, the distance learners have an equal opportunity to enhance the learning skills as the oncampus students experience in a study environment.

To cite this article: Chandrasekaran, Sivachandran; Orwa, Julius and Long, John. Assessing students' experiences in a virtual learning environment [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 148-158. Availability: <;dn=679505640069634;res=IELENG> ISBN: 9780994152039. [cited 26 Jul 17].

Personal Author: Chandrasekaran, Sivachandran; Orwa, Julius; Long, John; Source: In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 148-158. DOI: Document Type: Conference Paper ISBN: 9780994152039 Subject: Active learning--Evaluation; Affiliation: (1) School of Engineering, Deakin University, Geelong, email:
(2) School of Engineering, Deakin University, Geelong
(3) School of Engineering, Deakin University, Geelong

Database: Engineering Collection