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Issues In Hands On Online Graduate Programs In Information Technology

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Graduate Education in ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.844.1 - 10.844.12



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Paper Authors

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Biwu Yang

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Tijjani Mohammed

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

Session: 2149

Issues in Hands-on Online Graduate Programs in Information Technology

Tijjani Mohammed and Biwu Yang East Carolina University


There is a high demand for online graduate programs in various engineering and technology fields. The reasoning is simple: there is a large pool of working professionals needing graduate study, but cannot afford to in-person due to their job, family, or distance limitations. The Department of Technology Systems, within the College of Technology and Computer Science (TECS) at East Carolina University has been offering several Internet-based graduate programs since 1995. This paper focuses on the Master of Science in Industrial Technology (MSIT) that has several concentrations, including Computer Networking Management, Digital Communications, and Information Security. All courses in the MSIT program are delivered 100% online, with majority of the technical courses having lab-intensive, hands-on components. This paper shares information pertaining to some of the issues and experiences of offering graduate, hands-on programs in information technology (IT) completely online.


Distance education, by nature has several unique issues, but making it online and lab-intensive with real equipment creates new challenges1,3,5,13. The availability and affordability of computing and networking technologies have made Internet-based teaching and learning of both theory and lab-based courses and programs very practical1,5,9,13. Advances in Internet access technologies like dial-up, broadband, satellite, and personal wireless communication services have propelled online teaching and learning to unprecedented levels. Additionally, the tremendous processing power and reduced cost of today’s personal computers and networking equipment have made Internet-based programs much more appealing and practical than other traditional DE based counterparts. As a result of these and other technological developments, there is a flurry of activity as academic institutions attempt to capitalize on this new wave of enrollment-boosting opportunity2,5,7-12.

Initial developments in online lab-based programs were dominated mostly by theory-based courses, or those that easily lent themselves to simulation5,9,10,13. Courses and programs that needed control, programming, and manipulation of real equipment either required the DE students to travel to campuses or designated locations for a chance at real lab experiments2,3,11. In some cases, instructors were forced to haul the lab equipment to remote locations for the students to practice with over short periods, or in other instances over several days. This method

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Yang, B., & Mohammed, T. (2005, June), Issues In Hands On Online Graduate Programs In Information Technology Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14793

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