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Developing Community for Distance Learners in an Engineering Management Program

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Enhancing Engineering Management

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.396.1 - 23.396.8



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Paper Authors


La Tondra Murray Duke University

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Dr. La Tondra Murray is currently the associate director of professional master's programs and an adjunct professor of the Practice in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She received a B.S. in Computer Science from Spelman College and a B.EE. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University.

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Developing Community for Distance Learners in an Engineering Management ProgramAs universities explore options for the delivery of high quality degree programs to distancelearners, some students will look for innovative offerings that combine virtual instruction withelements of face-to-face interaction. Distance learners often select programs that support theasynchronous delivery of core classroom material to retain the momentum of established careersand better manage work-life commitments. There is additional value in distance educationopportunities that combine a flexible, academically rigorous curriculum with a personalizedapproach to create and sustain a supportive community for remote candidates. The existence ofsuch a community can ultimately increase the potential for long-term academic success.A low-residency version of an established graduate level Engineering Management program waslaunched at a university in 2009. This cohort-driven model utilizes a blended classroom toinclude distance and campus students in shared course sections each semester. Distance contentis delivered in the form of recorded classroom lectures posted online weekly. The distributedprogram participants are predominantly employed on a full-time basis and typically complete thedegree in two years. The credit requirements are identical for both distance and campusstudents. The remote candidates must, however, attend three weeklong residencies on campus tograduate.This paper will detail the types of activities that can promote the development of an engagingdistance learning community through an analysis of the four cohorts enrolled to date. Surveysdistributed to a representative sample of distance students will be used along with select follow-on interviews to examine the experiences that were most effective in fostering connections withfaculty, staff, and other students. Focal areas for assessment will include: residency content,faculty/staff communication, peer interactions, collaboration tools, and alumni engagement.

Murray, L. T. (2013, June), Developing Community for Distance Learners in an Engineering Management Program Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19410

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