Online version of ECE 110 developed for transfer students


Susan Kantor, ECE ILLINOIS

Currently, the first class for most ECE students is ECE 110: Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering. But starting next summer, transfer students may have a new option for that first ECE class.

Marie-Christine Brunet
Marie-Christine Brunet

ECE Lecturer and Chief Adviser Marie-Christine Brunet is developing ECE 109, an online version of 110, but without the lab component.

In 2008, Brunet began using a tablet PC to illustrate her lectures in ECE 110. She also began experimenting with Camtasia, a program that records video snapshots of a computer screen and allows audio to be added. She recruited students to ask questions during the recorded segments.

“What I’ve been doing with this software is to use it to take some of the elements that we cover in class, and do a small explanation that students can listen to as many times as they want,” Brunet said.

Brunet had also been receiving e-mails from students asking if ECE 110 was available online. “We have quite a few transfer students who come here from different community colleges,” Brunet said. “It’s very difficult for them to find classes that are comparable to our class at U of I. They have to take this class, which is a freshman class, and that puts them a little bit behind on the chain of classes they have to take.”

The combination of the new software she was using and the number of students asking for an introductory online class gave Brunet the idea for ECE 109.

“ECE 109 will not be a traditional online class with recorded lectures, but rather a combination of tutorials, notes, illustrative videos, and homework problems,” Brunet said.

The class will be geared toward potential transfer students. It will cover all the topics covered in the lecture component of ECE 110. Students will still need to take the lab component once they are on campus. This will help transfer students to reach a level comparable to students who have been here since freshman year.

“I really hope that this will help those students who are planning to come to U of I, but who are coming from a college where such a class is not available,” Brunet said. “They will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the topics. At the same time, they are making progress to be a bit more ahead when they come here.”

Students will need to be enrolled at Illinois to take this class, and it will count for regular college credit. Brunet expects to have the course ready for summer 2010.

“I want to experiment with designing something like this,” Brunet said. “Similar to writing a book, it’s going to require a lot of thinking about the structure of the class, how to organize the topics, and how to connect the different elements. I think it’s going to be very interesting for me to design this.”