By Rebecca Alowo
Engineering education is changing, will a social constructionist to engineering education do the trick? Will digital engineering education prevail? During Covid 19 lockdown, many schools transformed to online teaching. With more tools than ever available at the disposal of engineering schools. studying, working remotely and virtually anywhere as a digital nomad is now a reality. Digital nomads are a type of people who use ICT to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Most of students had a Teams or Zoom webinar or a blackboard lecture to attend during this lockdown. A lot of lectures, tests, exams, and assignments have been administered online. All this is in line with participatory learning.
A social constructivist approach to teaching engineering students, is to enable students assimilate knowledge and learn lessons participatorily. Addition of elements of constructivism in the classroom, is to make learning a social event where facts from isolation are relevant and motivational. Connecting new knowledge to the knowledge they already have is the thrust of the methodology. The social-construct approach makes the lecturer use his/her social experiences to relate to the students when giving a lesson.
A typical engineering class session gives a holistic view, the objective of the lecture is engagement, work in small groups is to aid assimilation & accommodation of new knowledge. Feedback from the class sessions is used to adapt teaching styles and planning for the next class.
Digital education and social constructivism in engineering must overcome the lack of ICT infrastructure where engineering students reside, the lack of devices among engineering students, the additional financial investments and the capacity development needed.
In conclusion the use of various digital platforms and social constructivism, support and nurture learning and development. It also supports the graduate attributes required by many engineering councils.
Rebecca Alowo holds a DEng student at Central University of Technology Free State South Africa. The writer is a lecturer-water engineering at University of Johannesburg, the writer works as a Senior Consultant Research Studies at Quantum Executive Education. The writer also free lances under Kenyonyozi properties.