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Combining Synchronous And Asynchronous Learning Networks In Engineering

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.130.1 - 4.130.9

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Paper Authors

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David P. Heddle

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Robert F. Hodson

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David C. Doughty

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

Session 1532

Combining Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Networks in Engineering Robert F. Hodson David C. Doughty David P. Heddle Christopher Newport University


For the past year faculty at Christopher Newport University have been experimenting with Synchronous Learning Networks (SLNs) and Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALNs) throughout the computer engineering curriculum. Learning Networks are introduced in introductory physics courses and used in many courses throughout the four year program. A web- based software tool, Web-4M, is being used as a common thread to combine SLNs and ALNs at Christopher Newport University. Web-4M, which is now commercially available, was designed by CNU faculty to address the needs of science and engineering students in network-based learning. This software uniquely merges SLNs and ALNs by linking synchronous tools such as chats, white boards and slide shows with a common data repository that is also used by asynchronous tools such as email, news groups and a file manager. These communication tools are used in a variety of ways including: simple file transfer, virtual office hours, student project logs, posting review material, collaboration with other institutions, and student to student collaboration. This paper discusses the unique features of Web-4M and faculty experience in the application of this tool set to engineering instruction.

I. Introduction

Over the past year faculty in Engineering and Physics have been teaching with a tools suite called Web-4M. The collaboration and information sharing tools found in Web-4M can be applied to any discipline, but the rich nature of visualization tools found in Web-4M (an not found in many other collaboration products) made it especially useful in teaching engineering and science. Web-4M, a product developed by JDH Technologies, is unique in that it is a hybrid tool suite containing both synchronous and asynchronous tools useful in both web-based and traditional classes. This mix allows greater flexibility in presentation of material in a learning environment. It also opens up a realm of possibilities not available solely through ALNs. For example, Web-4M is very effective in a hybrid class that not only meets in a traditional, time-bound classroom but also requires the students to take part in a given amount of on-line synchronous discussions, problem-solving sessions, group homework, or to view presentations. A key component of making these new teaching paradigms work effectively is a tightly integrated distance education delivery system that allows for storage and retrieval of materials presented in a synchronous forum, thus accommodating absenteeism and providing a means for student review. The following sections will discuss some of the features of Web-4M, explain how the synchronous and asynchronous tools are integrated and give an example of how these tools can be used effectively in an engineering curriculum.


Heddle, D. P., & Hodson, R. F., & Doughty, D. C. (1999, June), Combining Synchronous And Asynchronous Learning Networks In Engineering Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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