E-LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

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1 E-LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM Shu-Hui Jan, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University, No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, Taiwan (Corresponding author) S. Ping Ho, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University, No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, Taiwan, H. Ping Tserng, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University, No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, Taiwan, ABSTRACT Construction safety learning management attempts to provide safety-related information to engineers and participants to reduce construction injuries and incidents. To address the issue of enhancing safety performance, this study presents a novel system called the Construction Safety-based E-learning Management (Con-SEM) System for application on construction projects. This paper will demonstrate that the Con-SEM System responds to newly-acquired safety-related information and efficiently enhances jobsite safety management in a construction project environment. Web-based technology can effectively enhance information sharing regarding construction safety learning management applications, and provides project-related safety information through the Internet. The Con-SEM system is applied to a selected case study involving a construction building in Taiwan to validate the proposed system and demonstrate the effectiveness of the safety learning and training during the construction phase. The main characteristic of the proposed Con-SEM system is that the system is extremely user friendly. The advantage of the Con-SEM system lies not only in improving construction safety-based information and learning efficiency for all engineers, but also in providing the latest safety-based information and experiences for general contractors in construction. Keywords: Safety Management, Web-based Application, Information Systems, Construction Project 1. INTRODUCTION It is essential that junior engineers understand the important safety-related operations and events of the construction process before participating in projects. However, training time and cost may make it difficult to access an actual training program in practice. In addition, there is the need to consider site safety and other issues if junior engineers are

2 the safety tips and experiences in executing projects do not need to be trained over and over again. Furthermore, the junior engineers can understand how construction process safety works more quickly and easily by utilizing an e-learning platform. The system is developed and implemented with an interactive e-learning platform using web-based technology and construction on-site safety education. The multimedia courseware provides junior engineers with animated illustrations specific to operation procedures using Flash technology. In addition, digital films record the all important construction operations. The animation helps the junior engineers understand the process easily and effectively. Furthermore, digital films with detailed explanations are recorded and clearly describe the progress and operation of the construction operations. In other words, junior engineers can access the animated illustrations and digital films for events in the system. Of course, those e-learning materials must be confirmed before being published in the system. 2. PROBLEM STATEMENT It is important for junior engineers to go to the site to understand the manner in which buildings are constructed. Usually, junior engineers need time to be trained and experienced people to train them when they just arrive at the construction site during a specific phase in the construction process. Actually, most junior engineers understand the procedure directly through visits to construction sites and discussions with senior engineers or experts. The problem is that it usually takes a long time for them to understand the safety work experience if they want to learn the process. Furthermore, it is not easy for them to find a proper instructor to learn from and discuss with during the construction phase. Valuable experience should be captured, stored, managed, and reused for other projects (Hart, 1992). The traditional methods for the exchange of safety-related experience are ineffective because the safetyrelated experience cannot be maintained and reused on other projects. Additionally, junior engineers do not know where to find this information. After completion of their projects, junior engineers have gained valuable safety-related experience; however, they may not have the opportunity to share their insights with others. In practice, the problems mentioned above exist on most construction projects. 3. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES The use of computerized delivery methods in continuing learning has become popular in recent years. One of the latest trends is in the use of web-based methods as a learning tool. Barron (1998) had attempted to classify and define the various modes of web-based delivery for learning and suggested that Web-based Training (WBT) is emerging as the preferred acronym in the industry. In fact, Web-based Introduction (WBI) and Webbased Training (WBT) are increasingly used in the academic world. Furthermore, the

3 it is very convenient for them to utilize courseware from anywhere and at anytime. The main purpose for conducting this research is to develop a Construction Safety-based E-learning Management (Con-SEM) System for junior engineers. Con-SEM system provides the exchange of safety experience during the construction process. Figure 1 illustrates the concept of Con-SEM system. Therefore, how to prepare safety learning and knowledge for junior engineers becomes the main topic of research. In order to apply the concept to a real life example, the case study selected for this research was the Taiwan building project.. In the case study, knowledge workers assisted senior and experienced engineers and experts in the collection of digital films regarding current and past projects. Senior engineers and experts provided important safety-related tips and experience through interacitive discussions with the knowledge workers. Furthermore, the operation procedures were recorded using digital cameras and then animated with Flash technology. Finally, junior engineers were encouraged to use the system for on-the-job safety training. 1 PROBLEM HAPPENING 2 CREATE 3 4 COLLECT RECORD problems happen in the projects. are created in the projects. are collected in the team groups and engineers. are saved in the system STORAGE CREATE NEW REUSE FIND New safetyrelated are updated and centralized in a system database. New safetyrelated are created in the projects. are reused in the other projects. Users Use Con- SEM system to fine knowledge they need in the system. Figure 1 The concept of Con-SEM system The knowledge management team in the company then identified a theme and a series of generic subject areas based on the discussion results. The advantages of the Con-SEM system included the following: Supported on-the-job-training safety specific to the construction phase; Provided safety learning environment for junior engineers; Effectively maintained and managed the safety-related experience from experienced engineers; and

4 Multimedia includes various types of media such as graphics, text, animations, audio and video (Miranda and Park 1998). In construction projects, most project-related problems, solutions, experiences, and know-how are recorded into multimedia-based content. Also, multimedia systems are particularly suited to interactive applications since they allow huge collections of visual media, text, and other data to be stored in a single digital document and accessed easily and quickly (Saad and Hancher 1998). Usually, implicit knowledge is not documented or stored in a system database. It is important to capture the implicit make it available as knowledge. In this study, tacit knowledge was collected, edited and recorded in useful interactive multimedia-based content that could be used during the construction process. There were two parts to this work. First, collection of the firms safety related procedures and processes was conducted. Secondly, construction safety-related operations were animated using Flash technology. All procedures are shown below in Figure 2. The knowledge workers helped the senior engineers and experts to record the various construction processes and edited the descriptions by using input from senior engineers and experts. Next, knowledge workers programmed most of the animated illustrations of the important safety-related construction processes. This enabled junior engineers to quickly understand the construction safety-related procedures through e-learning environments. Digital Films Knowledge Workers E-learning Con-SEM System Approve Description Engineers Knowledge Sharing Animation Programmers Figure 2 The framework of Con-SEM system. The knowledge team in the company was responsible for preparing all materials in the Con-SEM system. Most of the materials in the Con-SEM system was collected at construction sites. Therefore, some of the knowledge workers assisted the senior engineers and experts by using digital video cameras to record films at the construction sites. Kknowledge workers also programmed animations modeled after discussions with the senior engineers in the office. Finally, knowledge workers placed those animations and digital films into the system based on their attributes.

5 All the animations were edited with FLASH technology, and the system was developed under a web-based platform programmed by JSP. The server of the Con-SEM system for safety provides four distinct types of layers: interface, access, application and database layers (see Fig. 3); each layer has its own distinct responsibilities. The interface layer defines administration and end-user interfaces suited to his/her work. The junior engineers can utilize the system through web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. Administrators can control and manage information through the web browser as well as a separate server interface. The access layer provides system security and restricted access, firewall services, and system administration functions. The application layer defines various applications for information collection and management. These applications provide indexing, full text searches, collaborative work functions and document management functions. The database layer consists of a primary SQL Server 2003 database and a backup database (also based on SQL Server 2003). Within the ConE-learning system, junior engineers may access the Internet to learn about all materials related to their requirements. By distributing the web and database servers on different computers, a firewall can be built between them to protect the system database against any foreign intrusion. The Con-SEM system for safety services described in this paper is made available to all the participants of the company through a specially designed portal, which also serves as a messaging (mail) server for the company (organization). Con-SEM System Interface Layer Access Layer Application Layer Database Layer Web browser (IE) Authentication JSP & JavaScript MS SQL Server 2003 Firewall Communities Service Animation Service Function Service Digital Photo Service Digital Video Service Document Service Figure 3 System architecture. 6. FIELD TESTS AND RESULTS During the field trials, verification and validation tests were performed to evaluate the system. The verification test was conducted by checking whether the Con-SEM system

6 experience; two senior engineers with 20 years of experience; one engineer with 10 years of experience; two junior engineers with 1 year of experience and two knowledge workers with 5 years of experience. The significant findings of the case study are summarized as follows; (1) the total number of safety-related tips and experiences was 53; (2) most senior engineers and experts considered recording and editing their experiences to be too time consuming; (3) most engineers agreed that the Con-SEM system is helpful for enabling safety-related experience sharing and management in construction projects. 7. CONCLUSIONS Multimedia can be any application that uses multiple types of media, such as graphics, text, animations, audio and video. The main purpose of this study presents a construction safety-based e-learning management system for junior engineers as an e-learning platform. The development of the Con-SEM system for safety employs the integration of web technology with a portal. This system has been outlined and illustrated through a case study of the Taiwan building project. The Con-SEM system takes full advantage of the interactive qualities of multimedia and the potential for collecting, storing and accessing a wide range of media applications. The Con-SEM system is advanced in the respect that it allows insight into the factors having impact on safety-related knowledge and experience for construction projects. This, in turn, will help senior engineers share safety-related knowledge with junior engineers to improve safety learning and management performance. Junior engineers can interact with the system so they can clearly and easily understand the safety-related experience in which to involve projects effectively. In short, the Con-SEM system is able to assist junior engineers by providing accurate and important safety-related tips for safety experience reuse and reference. The integration of knowledge management and web e-learning technologies appear to be a promising way to improve junior engineers' learning curves. The collection and animation of a firm s important safety-related construction tips and experiences allows junior engineers to understand and implement a great deal of safetyrelated experience without the learning curve. The safety-related content of firms and animation in the system not only provides a variety of selected media, but also makes information from past projects readily available. Although effort is required to collect and transfer the safety knowledge into various types of forms, the developed system will benefit construction safety learning and management by (1) providing an effective and efficient computerized environment to assist safety-related learning and management tasks, (2) providing explanations and an understanding of important safety processes construction, and (3) improving visual representation through animation with text. In the evaluation of the case study of the Taiwan building project, the results show that a Con-SEM system is an effective way to share safety-related knowledge for construction projects. Furthermore, animations were found to be the most attractive media to present construction methods, and according to questionnaire

7 management. The feedback based on the application of the system are as follows; (1) the content of safety-related tips and experience warehouse in the system is inadequate to support novice engineers in obtaining previously acquired safety-related experience in the early stages of a construction project; (2) most senior engineers and experts generally require substantial time and assistance to edit and record their safety-related experience and (3) most engineers agree that the Con-SEM system is more useful than other methods of obtaining previous safety-related experience. The use of Con-SEM system mainly assists engineers in exchanging important safetyrelated experience easily and effectively. The questionnaire results indicate that the primary advantages of ConE-learning system in the case are as follows: (1) the Con-SEM system provides clear and dynamic representations, (2) the animation films in Con-SEM system clearly illustrate safety-related experiences and knowledge, (3) users can find needed safety-related experience easily and effectively from available experienced engineers. Based on the success of the first trial use of Con-SEM system for e-learning purpose, a new course called construction safety planning and management has been developed for the future. It will be an entirely problem-centered, computer-mediated course integrating IT skill with safety-related planning in construction. 8. REFERENCES Barron, A. (1998), Designing web-based training, British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. 29(4) Hart, A. (1992), Knowledge Acquisition for Expert Systems, 2 nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York. Miranda, V. and Park, T. (1998), Representation of architecture concepts in the study of precedents: a concept-learning system. Automation in Construction, 8 (1) Saad, I.M.H and Hancher, D.E. (1998), Multimedia for project management: project navigator, Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 82-89, February. Wilkins, B. and Barrett, J. (2000), The virtual Construction Site: a Web-based Teaching/learning environment in Construction technology. Automation in Construction, 10,

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