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Synchronous Cohort-Based International Education

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Online Programs and Program Assessment

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

18

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33333

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33333

Download Count

163

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Paper Authors

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Tilman Wolf University of Massachusetts Amherst Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0449-0441

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Tilman Wolf is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As Associate Dean of Engineering, he led major initiatives in the College of Engineering, including the establishment of a new Department of Biomedical Engineering and its degree programs, implementation of a new cohort-based distance education M.S. program, and development of a training program for graduate students who teach the college-wide freshman seminar. He is engaged in research and teaching in the areas of computer networks, cybersecurity, and embedded systems.

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biography

C. V. Hollot University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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C.V. Hollot received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 1984 after which he
joined the ECE Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he is presently Department Head. His research interests are in the theory and application of feedback control.

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Russell Tessier University of Massachusetts

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Russell Tessier received the B.S. degree in computer and systems engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1989, and the S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, in 1992 and 1999, respectively. He is currently Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His current research interests include computer architecture and field-programmable devices.

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Bryan Polivka Shorelight Education

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Bryan Polivka is currently the Senior Director for Shorelight Education, focused on instructional design and learning architecture for Field Degrees. He is a creative, strategy-focused education executive who has designed new products and services and provided strategic direction and business results for a wide array of organizations.

As principal consultant for PolivkaVox LLC, he has helped schools, universities, corporations, and nonprofits by providing both strategy and strategically positioned product. His higher education clients have included online, graduate, two-year, and four-year colleges and universities. As Divisional Vice President and Chief Learning Officer with Laureate Education, Mr. Polivka led the creation of degree programs and courses that fueled student growth from 1,500 to 35,000 at Walden University. He and his teams have built online, hybrid, and distance programs for and with Harvard, Wharton, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, SMU, Babson, UMass Amherst, UT Austin, Southern Cal, Carnegie-Mellon, the University of Liverpool, and Universidad del Valle de Mexico. Among his awards are the Most Significant Achievement by an Individual from the US Distance Learning Association, and a national Emmy for a documentary he both wrote and produced.

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Chris Hoehn-Saric Shorelight Education

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Janet Donghee Kang

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Katherine Newman

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Abstract

Many universities are striving to reach a broader audience of students by expanding into the international market, especially for graduate degree programs. The two dominant types of educational offerings to international students are (1) online degree programs or (2) establishment of an international branch campus. Both approaches present significant challenges, specifically, low persistence and completion rates in online courses and difficulty staffing international branch campuses with high-quality faculty members. To address these problems, we have developed a novel mode of distance education that offers a high-quality learning environment for students and quality instruction from instructors who remain on the home campus.

The "field degree" program developed jointly by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Shorelight Education is a synchronous, cohort-based classroom experience for international students who want to pursue a graduate degree while remaining in their home country. Instructors teach from a studio on the UMass Amherst campus to students who are located together with their peers in classrooms abroad. The instruction is synchronous and allows for seamless two-way communication and active student engagement and thus provides an environment that is very similar to what students experience in a conventional residential program. By locating the studio on the main campus of the university, regular faculty members can be instructors and thus ensure that the quality of the program is identical to what is normally taught on campus. The cohort-based approach ensures that students can form a community, collaborate in the classroom, and persist in the program.

The technology used in this setup is based on high-quality audio and video, interactive whiteboards, and a proprietary teaching and learning system that is augmented to support interactions during live lecture. For audio and video, the studio uses a large teleprompter design to let the instructor "look" into the classroom and see all the students. The instructor can see when students raise their hands (either physically or through the software). Interactive whiteboards enable the instructor to present and annotate slides. On the classroom side, students can see a persistent video feed of the instructor to ensure a continuous "presence" as well as all slides and whiteboard content at all times. Students can interact with the whiteboard from their side, present, and collaborate.

To-date, this mode of instruction has been used to teach three cohorts of students in the M.S. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering and one cohort in a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Assessment results of the program show very high persistence, high levels of interactions in the classroom, and achievement of learning outcomes. The first graduates are expected in the current semester, Fall 2018.

Wolf, T., & Hollot, C. V., & Tessier, R., & Polivka, B., & Hoehn-Saric, C., & Kang, J. D., & Newman, K. (2019, June), Synchronous Cohort-Based International Education Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33333

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