June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.553.1 - 12.553.26
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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