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A Hybrid Approach To Web Based Course Delivery For The Fire Safety Engineering Technology Program At Unc Charlotte

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.52.1 - 7.52.8

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Paper Authors

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Jeff Kimble

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Main Menu Session 1520

A Hybrid Approach to Web Based Course Delivery for the Fire Safety Engineering Technology Program at UNC Charlotte

Jeffrey Kimble The University of North Carolina Charlotte


The Fire Safety Engineering Technology program (FSET) at UNC Charlotte had several obstacles to overcome with the implementation of the distance education components of the program. The FSET program was created in direct response to lobbying from the state of North Carolina Fire Chief’s and Firemen’s Associations because of pressure for chief officers to have a Bachelors degree. The closest fire related programs were several states away, precluding the prospective fire chiefs from seeking a degree. This ultimately led to the state of North Carolina hiring several fire chiefs from outside the state, rather than promoting from within the ranks. As a result the FSET program at UNC Charlotte was created to meet this need. A stipulation in the creation of the program was that it had to be made available to firefighters across the state. An advisory council made up of fire chiefs from across the state had several other requests including: – No canned classes (video tapes, audio tapes, pre recorded media) – No site-based classes (no traveling to remote locations) – Adaptable to the firefighters unique work schedule (24 hours on/48 hours off) – Firefighters could participate while at work. Several different methods were explored and ultimately a “hybrid approach” was deemed acceptable. The hybrid approach consisted of an individual access program in which two-thirds of the course was placed on-line for the students to access asynchronously via WebCT, while the remaining one-third would be delivered live over the world wide web. The live portion was accomplished by using Centra Symposium, which effectively created a virtual classroom. Centra Symposium operates efficiently on a 28.8kbps connection allowing participation of the high- speed access underprivileged. With a connection of 56.6 kbps or higher, video can be passed in almost real time. Students have purchased cameras and with a mouse click, the instructor can pass the video to students who have questions or comments, allowing other students to see his/her virtual classmates. In addition, the “live” sessions are recorded for access at a later time.

This hybrid format allows students to attend class from anywhere an Internet connection is available and be able to participate in a classroom type setting. The delivery format has been an overwhelming success, allowing flexibility for the student through the asynchronous portions while giving them classroom experiences in spite of being hundreds of miles away.

History of the Program:

The initial idea for the program was brought to UNC Charlotte in the 1990s by Luther Fincher, Chief for the city of Charlotte, NC Fire Department. However, in the initial presentation to the University, the program was perceived to be more of a training program rather than education so

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Kimble, J. (2002, June), A Hybrid Approach To Web Based Course Delivery For The Fire Safety Engineering Technology Program At Unc Charlotte Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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