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Designing Self Contained Technical Education Curriculum For Online Programs

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ECE Online Courses, Labs, and Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.388.1 - 8.388.12

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Paper Authors

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Robert Summers

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

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ® 2003, American Society for Engineering Education. DEVELOPING METHODOLOGY & TOOLS FOR STAND-ALONE, SELF CONTAINED TECHNICAL ON-LINE COURSES

Dr. ROBERT A. SUMMERS, PhD EE Weber State University


Many studies have been conducted that show that the majority of students perform better and have a more successful experience in a live classroom setting than they do when involved in any kind of remote learning situation. This is statistically true, regardless of the criteria used to measure student success. Several reasons for the different levels of success are: The professor in the live classroom ideally acts as a coach and mentor to the students, focusing on each individual and encouraging progress through personal contact, while the remote student must be self motivated; and the live lecture utilizes personal contact and verbal explanations to teach difficult concepts. Our ability to learn inductively is based on a foundation of skills taught to us by other human beings. A third element that especially applies to technical students is the availability of parts and equipment to perform laboratory experiments and applied learning activities. Most schools have well equipped laboratories, staffed with laboratory assistants to guide the students through assigned projects. Remote students traditionally have had to get parts and equipment on their own, rely on available local facilities, use only computer synthesis of the laboratory experiments, or not do the hardware part of the learning exercises at all.

Working on a grant from the Utah Educational Council and funding from Orchid Educational Enterprises, Inc. (OrchEd ®); Dr. Summers researched methods of remote presentation of technical material that bridge the gap between the university classroom and student studying the material over the internet or through some other remote study program. Using his own “on-line” students as a laboratory, Dr. Summers was able to improve their performance and success by recording streaming lectures of key learning concepts, and developing circuit design trainers and experiments that his students could use anywhere to build and test each learned concept. The teaching packages produced and tested by Dr. Summers included state of the art multimedia CD ROM text books, recordings of streaming white board lectures on each learning concept, laboratory circuit design trainers, laboratory parts kits, parts descriptions and documentation, and CD ROM laboratory manuals. The CD ROM text books Dr. Summers produced contain pictures, illustrations, written text, audio text, video clips, and white board streaming lectures complete with an audio track and full color interactive controls. By using Authorware ® by Macromedia ®, Dr. Summers was able to compile the information onto a CD ROM in a format that is easy to navigate.

This paper outlines a study of on-line student performance versus their on-campus counter parts. It also takes you through the model of a remote learning package developed by Dr. Summers, and outlines how to use the various equipment and software packages he assembled to develop his project. It discusses resources that are now available and shows how to make the remote learning situation emulate the live classroom to the extent possible. Dr. Summers also discusses how to use commercially available laboratory trainers and laboratory parts kits to provide remote students with a viable “hands-on” experience.

Summers, R. (2003, June), Designing Self Contained Technical Education Curriculum For Online Programs Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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