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Distance Learning In Support Of An Inter Institutional Bme Department

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

New Tools in Teaching and Learning Biomedical Engineering Concepts

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Page Count


Page Numbers

12.553.1 - 12.553.26



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Paper Authors


Kathy Schmidt University of Texas-Austin

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KATHY J. SCHMIDT is the Director of the Faculty Innovation Center for the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In this position, she promotes the College of Engineering’s commitment to finding ways to enrich teaching and learning. She works in all aspects of education including design and development, faculty training, learner support, and evaluation.

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Mia Markey University of Texas-Austin

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MIA K. MARKEY is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. The mission of her Biomedical Informatics Lab is to design cost-effective computational medical decision aids that will help physicians better diagnose, treat, and manage cancer. Her primary interest in improving engineering education is the identification of effective strategies for coordinating instructional technologies to reinforce learning.

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Thomas Milner University of Texas-Austin

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

Distance Learning in Support of an Inter-Institutional BME Department: Assessing Faculty and Student Needs


The University of Texas at Austin recently established an inter-institutional Department of Biomedical Engineering encompassing three campuses: UT Austin, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and UT Health Science Center-Houston. Since the campuses of participating institutions are in two cities separated by about 170 miles, distance learning technologies are a key factor for the pedagogical component of the graduate program. Because this collaborative environment is quite different from typical distance learning paradigms, a new study opportunity was recognized. For example, the demographics of the student body are the same as for a single-site graduate program, whereas many distance learning programs are constructed for more diverse populations. Moreover, we recognize the importance that teaching should drive technology usage, not vice versa, even when technology is essential as is the case for a distance learning environment.

Thus, we conducted a series of surveys with our faculty and students to assess their needs, with an emphasis on recognized competencies for distance education. We present lessons learned about both the process of needs assessment for distance education as well as the identified challenges.


During the last decade, the expanding range of educational technologies has created many choices for universities to deliver instruction. With these advances, distance education (DE) is becoming more prevalent in postsecondary institutions with 62 percent of public and private 2- and 4-year institutions offering DE courses in 2004-05. 1 “At its most basic level, distance education takes place when a teacher and student(s) are separated by physical distance, and technology (i.e., voice, video, data, and print), often in concert with face-to-face communication, is used to bridge the instructional gap.”2

With the growth of distance learning programs, many question its appropriateness and effectiveness. Research indicates that it can be as effective as traditional face- to-face instruction when the principles of good instruction are applied. That is, DE courses are effective when technology and methods are aligned appropriately, when there is student-to-student interaction, and when students receive timely feedback.3 It is, however, the unprecedented range of technologies that causes many institutions to select the technology first thus resulting in pedagogical and instructional design considerations fitting to particular technologies. Such practice does not promote the matching of technologies to specific, well-defined

Schmidt, K., & Markey, M., & Milner, T. (2007, June), Distance Learning In Support Of An Inter Institutional Bme Department Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2920

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