The development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) appears to be increasing in pace on a yearly basis. The development of new hardware, new communication methods, and software availability to exploit these new technologies, offers new opportunities in the education sector. The existing generation of learners quickly become conversant with the new technologies available, and are able to exploit them to their advantage. However, new technologies are far more slowly adopted by academic institutions, and it is usually not even clear how older technologies can be integrated into the curricula for the benefit of both learners and teachers. In addition, future employers also have a vested interest in graduating chemical engineers possessing a range of skills related to the use of commercially available software and technologies.
This paper examines some of the technologies that are being exploited for teaching and learning in Chemical Engineering at The University of Manchester, and in addition how the learning of required software and technology skills can be acquired. These include internet based technologies which are being used to host virtual learning environments, which are now able to support many learning based activities such as discussion boards, teaching and learning materials, student work submission, feedback, and grading. Skills in commercially available general software, such as word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets, are also required to be acquired by learners. Skills in mathematical modelling software packages and chemical engineering simulation packages also need to be integrated into the curriculum. In addition the paper will look at technologies not yet exploited specifically in chemical engineering at Manchester, but which are making impacts in engineering disciplines elsewhere.