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Switching Modalities: Implications of Online Education in Biomedical Engineering

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Teaching Interventions in Biomedical Engineering (Works in Progress) - June 22nd

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Vignesh Subbian University of Arizona Orcid 16x16

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Vignesh Subbian is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Systems and Industrial Engineering, member of the BIO5 Institute, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Center for University Education Scholarship at the University of Arizona. His professional areas of interest include medical informatics, healthcare systems engineering, and broadening participation in engineering and computing. Subbian’s educational research is focused on ethical decision-making and formation of identities in engineering.

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Daniel B. Whitaker University of Arizona

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Daniel Whitaker is an Instructional Designer for Digital Learning at the University of Arizona. He has been involved with developing and designing instructional material since 2006 and has a background in digital media development and design.

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The notion of providing higher education at a distance is growing at a rapid pace with advances in online and digital technologies. Currently, nearly 30% of all postsecondary students take at least one course at a distance, while public higher education institutions serve two-thirds of all distance learners. The growing student population and the need for more skilled workforce, together, are changing the landscape of online education in engineering disciplines. The overarching purpose of this work is to review and demonstrate the implications of online education in biomedical engineering. Specifically, this work will present strategies, quality assessment, and lessons from designing and implementing the first fully online course in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the University of Arizona.

After three years of offering an on-campus version of an introductory, dual-level (graduate and undergraduate) course in biomedical informatics within the engineering curriculum, the course was transitioned to a fully online format in Fall 2019 to better serve the broader student population in BME and those in other engineering disciplines. The course involves a 10-week project, along with weekly reading, viewing, and writing activities that are designed to promote critical thinking and collaboration. To assess the overall course quality and generate meaningful results to the engineering education community, we use the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC’s) five pillars of online education as a conceptual framework: learning effectiveness, access, scale, student satisfaction, and faculty satisfaction. Additionally, we use the Quality Matters rubric for continuous improvement purposes. Overall, we believe this work will serve as a stepping stone for designing, implementing, and assessing online courses in BME and identify key opportunities for online engineering education, including low stakes assessments and virtual projects.

Subbian, V., & Whitaker, D. B. (2020, June), Switching Modalities: Implications of Online Education in Biomedical Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35263

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