Real World Engineering Via Remote Learning

Real World Engineering Via Remote Learning
Posted on 04/21/2020
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Inside Virtual LearningHow do you make the jump from teaching about 130 students in a class that heavily relies on hands-on learning to remote learning? Joe Schorr, a Butler Tech teacher at the Lakota East Freshman building, has figured it out.

“I was a little nervous,” admits Schorr who teaches Introduction to Engineering Design.  “My classroom is usually a very hands on classroom. Students are either working on building things or they are working on a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program that we have on our PCs in the classroom.” Knowing that this would not be a possibility during remote learning, Schorr set about coming up with an alternative plan. 

After researching other options, Schorr discovered a web-based program called Onshape that allows his students to complete the same work they would do in class, but on their district-owned Chromebooks. “Without this remote learning experience, we may have not discovered this new tool that is going to make our classroom even better going forward,” said Schorr.

While the shift from Inventor, the in-class program, to Onshape was daunting at first, ninth-grader Natalie Pond is happy with the new platform. “The transition into Onshape was easier than I thought it would be because we had learning pathways that we had to complete with videos and tutorials, so we weren't jumping right into it,” she explained. “I ultimately like Onshape better because it is online and we can work on everything on our Chromebooks.” Something that I really like about Onshape is that in Onshape we can do a big group project that is shared with everyone, whereas on Inventor, we have to work on everything under the same account in order to all be able to access it.”

An added bonus to this new way of schooling is that it’s bringing in another layer of the real world learning into their virtual classroom. “We have transformed our project to simulate what it would be like to work with engineers at another location,” notes Schorr.  “So in a sense, remote learning has given us the opportunity to do more real life applications since many real world projects are done without ever getting together face-to-face.”

How does this work? Students across the district are utilizing Lakota’s Learning Management System called Canvas to not only access their assignments, but also have online discussions with their teachers and classmates. Shorr’s students continue to look to Canvas daily for their lesson plans, which is no different than what they would do in class. 

Students are currently working on their final exam project. Working in groups, they are able to choose from designing a miniature golf course, an American ninja warrior course or a family fun zone for Liberty Center. 

Quincy Beringer and his group are creating a miniature golf course with a sports theme. “The reason we are doing putt-putt is because we thought we would have lots of options to make a very cool and different putt-putt course,” he explained. “The reason we chose sports is because it is a very broad theme and we could do almost anything with it.”

Pond and her group are developing a Disney-themed ninja warrior course because it is family-friendly. “All four people in our group are Disney nerds, so we knew that we wanted to make it themed Disney, we just didn't know in what way,” said Pond. After contemplating several different ideas, Pond and her group landed on a genre. “We finally came up with Disney classics like Toy Story, Aladdin, Honey I Shrunk the Kids (and) Lion King,” she continued. 

Schorr’s students, like many others involved in group work, are also utilizing Google and Zoom. “(The students) have shared Google Docs to track their daily work.  We are currently setting up schedules to do Zoom video meetings so they can all chat together.” Schorr varies his Zoom schedules to meet the needs of his students, even holding them in the evening if necessary.

The students are making the best of the new learning situation and see both pros and cons with remote learning. Beringer likes the flexibility to work at his own pace to meet deadlines. “One thing I like about remote learning is how we are given multiple assignments a week and they have to be done by a certain date so you know what you have to do through the week and when it has to be done” he said. However he misses having the face-to-face daily interaction with his teachers. 

While the transition to remote learning has gone fairly well for Schorr and his students, the greatest challenge is not meeting face-to-face every day. “I think the hardest part of all of this is just not being there to see the kids daily. I love the interactions in the classroom with my students so that is something I will miss over the coming weeks.”

Photo: Natalie Pond (left) Quincy Beringer (right)