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Distance Learning: Facts, Failures, Foibles, And The Future

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ET Distance Learning: Instruction & Labs

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.469.1 - 9.469.6

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Paper Authors

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Robert Easton

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John Stratton

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

Session No. 1648

Distance Learning: Facts, Failures, Foibles, and the Future Robert Easton and John Stratton College of Applied Science and Technology Rochester Institute of Technology

Abstract: Within the last decade there has been a strong push for colleges and universities to provide distance-learning opportunities. While “correspondence” schools have been in existence for many years, the “brick and mortar” schools have traditionally felt the classroom setting was the preferred and appropriate venue for higher-level education. The rapid growth of access to the Internet and depth and breadth of information found therein has caused a rethinking of teaching methodologies within the educational community.

Rochester Institute of Technology has transitioned in the past two decades from a “seat in the classroom” format to an “internet friendly” format. The engineering technology programs at RIT have been pioneers in this movement to reach a broader audience. While engineering technology programs were attractive to regional participants, geographical distances limited the availability of these options. An early attempt to broaden the geographical reach of courses and programs included satellite locations with RIT faculty traveling extensively to provide instruction. Transitioning through an era of videotaped lectures, RIT and the engineering technology programs now have a firm commitment to internet-based distance learning.

The paper investigates the advancements made by the engineering technology programs at RIT, analyzing the successes and shortfalls, and looking at future potential and possibilities in providing quality educational programs to students at remote locations. The author has taught several cycles of Strength of Materials via web-based distance learning.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the transition that has occurred over the past two decades at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) related to delivery of academic instruction. RIT, a traditional “bricks and mortar” university, has a long and impressive history of providing a sound technical education to prepare graduates for a successful career in business and industry. Customarily, instruction was conducted on the central campus in classroom and laboratory settings. This mode of instruction was suitable for many years and met the needs of the Rochester, NY community.

Beyond the Horizon

While RIT has long had a part-time evening program to accommodate adult learners, this program was operated in a fashion similar to the full-time day program. In the 1970’s it became apparent that there was a potential to expand instructional offerings to other geographical areas, especially the programs offered in the School of Engineering Technology. RIT was unique

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Easton, R., & Stratton, J. (2004, June), Distance Learning: Facts, Failures, Foibles, And The Future Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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