Geomatics E-learning with Exomatic: Implementation and Assessment
The Geodetic Engineering Laboratory (TOPO) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) has introduced e- learning into its undergraduate topography course. The Centre for Research and Support of Training and its Technologies (CRAFT) has introduced the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) to facilitate this. TOPO has developed and introduced online exercises as an alternative to its traditional classroom-based teaching methods. The motivation behind this is to move from teaching and learning in a traditional way to an interactive way; personalized exercises are completed by students on the Internet and are corrected automatically with online help facilities available. The project behind this concept, called Exomatic, is aimed at encouraging the students to be more autonomous in their learning of, and training in, geomatics data processing and analysis. Exomatic uses the scripting language PHP combined with a MySQL database. This allows for the integration of Exomatic in the Moodle LMS already used in TOPO courses. The main functions of Exomatic are the generation of Internet accessed exercises, the presentation of personalized data, a collection of answers in HTML form, automated corrections and hints for individual users. The system provides evaluations for students and statistical feedback for the professor on student performance and progress. The objective of Exomatic is to improve the autonomy of students and facilitate the preparation and correction of exercises for teachers and teaching assistants. The ultimate aim is for Exomatic to be a component in the LMS of the EPFL, with the ambition of sharing Exomatic as a standard Moodle module for use by the wider community. This paper will present the structure of Exomatic, the implementation of interactive exercises and its integration in the LMS. More than a hundred students have participated in the Exomatic project to prepare for their first exam. The evaluation of progress in the exercises shows a linear improvement from the students’ first and latest attempts. An online questionnaire on the acceptance of Exomatic by the users has been presented to the students. This will precisely evaluate the progress made by the students, the way they use this service and their acceptance of this learning process. The results and analysis of this evaluation, along with a discussion of the project, are presented in this paper.