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Data Sharing (DaSh) for Collaborative Learning in Laboratories

Author(s): Kate Page | Martin Levesley | Elizabeth Read | Ben Hanson | Justin Gallagher

Journal: Engineering Education
ISSN 1750-0044

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 37;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: DaSh | ReLOAD | learning technology

In a set of independent student focus groups conducted at Leeds University by the Royal Academy of Engineering, a common concern regarding laboratory sessions was that an emphasis on assessment often meant that, due to time pressures, students concentrated on gathering data rather than understanding the underlying engineering principles.In 2008, with support from the Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre, the DaSh system was developed to allow students to upload and share data, in order to promote collaborative and deeper learning. Data could be uploaded in real-time, via the internet, allowing results to be made available immediately for comparison with their peers’, whilst still in the laboratory in front of the equipment.This facilitated learning in two distinct ways. At a basic level, students were able to rapidly spot and correct measurement or calculation errors. At a more advanced level, conclusions could be drawn from the observation of hundreds of data points (rather than just five or ten), something that would otherwise have been impossible, had they worked independently.Following its positive impact on the student learning experience, data sharing was incorporated into a ReLOAD (Real Labs Operated At Distance) session, allowing the experiment to be repeated anywhere with internet access.DaSh was evaluated by comparing performance on similar sessions run with and without data sharing, observing behaviour within the laboratory, completion of questionnaires after the sessions and from focus groups. Through these methods, results have shown that the system has worked well, has been popular with the students and has been beneficial to their learning.

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