Burks Oakley II

Scholar: 1982

Awarded Institution
Professor Emeritus
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign


Research Interests

Applications of Computer-Aided Instruction in the Undergraduate Engineering Curriculum

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), we have been experimenting with new uses of computers and computer networks, with the goal of improving the learning process in higher education. Since our approach involves asynchronous access to networked learning materials, this approach is an application of "asynchronous learning networks" (ALN) in higher education. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (grant #93-10) during the past two years, we have focused our initial efforts on our introductory circuit analysis course, ECE 270, which is taken by most undergraduate engineering students on our campus. We presented a pilot offering of our new course to 32 students during the Spring 1994 semester. Subsequently, we used the ALN approach in three of five sections (350 students total) during the Fall 1994 semester, in all four sections (420 students total) in the Spring 1995 semester, and in all four sections (370 students total) in the Fall 1995 semester.

Our innovative use of computers and computer networks enabled us to develop a new pedagogy for the delivery of university engineering courses. These uses of computers and networks created efficiencies in the learning process, and students found this interactive learning environment to be a significant improvement upon a traditional engineering course. Student performance and retention, as well as faculty productivity, are increased in this innovative teaching and learning environment. Our successful experiences in restructuring this introductory electrical engineering course encouraged us to move forward and establish the Sloan Center for Asynchronous Learning Environments (SCALE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in order to promote the development of additional approaches to network-based learning in a wide variety of courses.

Computer Software:

"CircuitTutor" courseware for Macintosh and Windows computers, used at UIUC and other major universities nationwide (1990-96). Published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. (1992-93). Named as "one of the best applications of technology in teaching and learning in higher education" in Educom’s Wyatt Challenge (1991).