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Collaborative Learning, Distance Learning, And Knowledge Management

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.274.1 - 6.274.7

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David Leonard

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Paper for Abstract 1297; Currently listed for Session 3542

Collaborative Learning, Distance Learning, and Knowledge Management David C. Leonard, Ph.D. School of Engineering Mercer University


This paper seeks to share information about a distance learning Master’s degree program in technical communication management at Mercer University. The paper provides a history and background of the program, including information on its evolution, approach, content, student demographics, and student responses. Also discussed is the collaborative learning method used in the program, as well as a discussion of the program’s shift in focus from technical communication to knowledge management.

Overview and Background

The degree program, which was begun in 1995, was conducted primarily during its first two years as a point to point distance learning offering to technical communication professionals located in Atlanta, Georgia as well to a group of technical communicators at Arthur Andersen in Sarasota, Florida. Local Atlanta students came to the campus to participate in a traditional classroom environment, in which lectures and discussions were videotaped and disseminated to the group in Florida. The Florida group in turn met on a weekly basis, viewed the videotape, and further discussed the content at their site. Face to face meetings occurred at the beginning of each semester involving both groups, with sites for the meeting alternating between Atlanta and Sarasota. Primary interaction between the two groups during each semester occurred via phone, audio-conference phone, and email. Student research papers and deliverables were posted to a classroom web site.

During the last four years, the program has shifted fairly dramatically to that of an entirely web- based multi-point, multi-disciplinary group distance learning activity. Content has shifted from a focus on technical communication to that of knowledge management. Graduate students from a variety of disciplines are dispersed across the United States, with a few located in Europe and Japan. The typical student currently in the program is middle-aged, married with children, has management in their job title, and works for a high technology company related to computers or communications.

A successful method used to broaden the base of the types of students in the program is to offer a minor in technical communication management to Mercer’s graduate students in engineering. These students are working professionals who are obtaining a Master’s degree in electrical engineering, engineering management, computer engineering, or software systems engineering. Typically, they partake in traditional classroom type graduate education out of the main campus in Macon, Georgia. A student who is pursuing a Master’s degree for example, in engineering management, takes three courses in technical communication management to obtain the minor.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Leonard, D. (2001, June), Collaborative Learning, Distance Learning, And Knowledge Management Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015