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Implementing Collaborative Learning In A Distance Education Setting

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.560.1 - 6.560.7

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Mukasa Ssemakula

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

Session 1647

Implementing Collaborative Learning in a Distance Education Setting

Mukasa E. Ssemakula

Division of Engineering Technology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202


This paper describes the process that was followed in transforming a course in Statics, previously delivered in the traditional chalk-and-board format, for delivery using live 2-way interactive television. The issues discussed include the instructor’s familiarization with the technology, preparation of new teaching materials and visual aids for the course, and development and incorporation of computer-based animations to enhance student understanding. The paper also describes the use of internet tools to promote peer-to-peer interaction as well as collaborative learning and teamwork in the class. Strategies for adapting standard collaborative learning techniques to web-based and web-enhanced courses and the instructor's role in their successful implementation in a distance education setting are discussed as well. Finally, the paper discusses the administrative procedures that were put in place to ensure smooth running of the class and foster a positive learning experience for both the on-campus and off-campus students.

1. Introduction

A variety of social, economic and technological factors are converging to create increased demand for long distance education. This increasing demand for distance education is in turn transforming how knowledge is delivered to students. Many technologies including videoconferencing, interactive computer-based instruction and web-based delivery are emerging to help address this need. From the instructor’s perspective however, this presents a new challenge. Not only does the instructor need to learn how to use the new technologies, the nature and style of delivery of the course content has to be adapted to the new medium of delivery.

The traditional approach to higher education involves a cohort of students coming together at a specified time in a formal classroom setting to meet with an instructor. In many cases; time, location or cost constraints mean that this traditional approach is not viable and alternative methods have to be applied. Indeed the profile of a typical college student is changing rapidly. As observed by James Duderstadt, President Emeritus of the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, today’s undergraduate student body is no longer dominated by 18-22 year-old high school graduates from affluent backgrounds. It is composed also of increasing numbers of adults from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, already in the workplace, perhaps with families, seeking the education and skills necessary for their careers1. The challenge for today's universities is to Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education.

Ssemakula, M. (2001, June), Implementing Collaborative Learning In A Distance Education Setting Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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