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Is It Real Or Is It Memorex: A Distance Learning Experience

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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

Improving ME Education: Trends in Mechanical Engineering I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.989.1 - 12.989.7



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Paper Authors


Wayne Whiteman Georgia Institute of Technology

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Wayne E. Whiteman is a Senior Academic Professional and Director of the Office of Student Services in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received his BS degree from the United States Military Academy in 1979, a master’s degree from MIT in 1987, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1996. Whiteman is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army and completed 24 years of active military service. He served on the West Point faculty from 1987 to 1990, and 1998 to 2003.

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Brian Mathews Georgia Institute of Technology

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Brian S. Mathews is a public services librarian and liaison to the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the Library’s Distance Learning Services Coordinator. Mathews received his Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida in 2001.

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

Is it Real or is it Memorex?: A Distance Learning Experience


Distance learning in engineering education is becoming more prevalent. The literature in educational research extensively covers technology issues. This paper focuses more on the pedagogical issues related to student-instructor interactions, and other issues that both the instructors and students can face in this distance learning environment that are unique and different from the traditional classroom. The constant challenge is to maintain at least the same learning environment as the traditional classroom and, if opportunities arise, enhance the learning environment whenever possible. The venue for discussing these topics is a typical engineering course offering during the summer term of 2006 in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.


Earning a Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) completely through distance learning has been an option at the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech for about ten years. Since its inception in 1996, nearly 720 graduate students have chosen this option and, to date, approximately 158 individuals have graduated through the program.

The admission standards for students applying for the distance learning option are exactly the same as on-campus students. Students participate in the same courses as their on-campus counterparts. There is no distinction in the degree awarded or the annotations on the transcript.

The selection of course work for completing the distance learning MSME degree is quite robust. Each term approximately twelve to fifteen courses are offered via the distance option. Exactly like their on-campus colleagues, distance learning graduate students must complete thirty hours of course work (normally 10 courses). This course work must meet the guidelines published in the Georgia Tech General Catalog and the Woodruff School Graduate Handbook to qualify for the awarding of the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) degree.

Distance learning and on-campus graduate students register for the same courses and participate in the same lectures. Classes are integrated so that there are no “distance only” course offerings. This common experience captures the sentiment of the title for this paper “Is it Real or is it Memorex?” In this manner, the learning experience for the distance learning and on-campus students is the same.

Delivery of the course material to the distance learning students is asynchronous. Historically the completion of graded material for the distance learning students has been on a two-week delay. This delay allows for the delivery of course material and provides some flexibility with the work schedules of the off-campus students who are often working full-time while completing their studies.

Whiteman, W., & Mathews, B. (2007, June), Is It Real Or Is It Memorex: A Distance Learning Experience Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1477

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