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Distance Education Moves Into The 21st Century: A Comparison Of Delivery Methods

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.218.1 - 3.218.6



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Paper Authors

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Russell G. Bly

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Ph.D., Paul E. Givens

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Anita L. Callahan

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

Session 2542

Distance Education Moves into the 21st Century: A Comparison of Delivery Methods

Anita L. Callahan, Paul E. Givens, Russell G. Bly

Industrial and Management Systems Engineering/University of South Florida


The good news is that distance education provides access to educational opportunities that would otherwise be denied to remotely located students. Even better is that this study shows that the choice of media does not affect the quality of the knowledge transfer. This study compares not only traditional distance education with classroom performance, but also includes an evaluation of courses taught using the Internet and CU- SeeMe® as a means of delivery. We show that the delivery medium does not negatively impact the transfer of knowledge. In fact, the use of virtual groups can enhance the student’s experience.

With an effort on the part of the teacher, the disadvantages of the lack of face-to-face interaction can be overcome using new technologies. Is it more work and more difficult for the instructor? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. As faculty interact with the enthusiasm of most students it becomes obvious that the exuberance is contagious.


Many educators have expressed concern regarding the comparative quality of courses delivered through distance education as opposed to traditional means. This paper reports on a set of studies comparing the performance of students and faculty in graduate engineering courses.

The state of Florida currently supports a collaborative initiative among the colleges of engineering to provide graduate engineering education to engineers throughout the state. The University of South Florida offers masters degrees in six disciplines (Civil and Environmental, Chemical, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical, Industrial and Management Systems, and Mechanical). This is FEEDS (Florida Engineering Education Delivery System) and since its inception at USF, over 575 degrees have been awarded to distance education students at the University of South Florida. Three-hundred-seventy- five of these degrees have been awarded by the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering.

To ease concerns that distance education results in a lowering of the quality of education, the graduate degree that is conferred upon completion of requirements is the same degree awarded by the Department to all students regardless of location. Admission and performance criteria are the same for those on- and off- campus. We have found that without direct access to the student’s transcript and an in-depth knowledge of the course numbering system, there is no way to distinguish between courses taken using traditional means and courses using a distance education medium.

Bly, R. G., & Givens, P. P. E., & Callahan, A. L. (1998, June), Distance Education Moves Into The 21st Century: A Comparison Of Delivery Methods Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7051

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