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Teaching Engineering Via Picture Tel

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.413.1 - 1.413.4

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Paper Authors

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Robert Madar

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David L. Huggins

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

.~ I Session 2358

Teaching Engineering via PictureTel

David L. Huggins, Robert Madar ASEE/Penn State University

At Penn State New Kensington and Penn State McKeesport, a pilot lecture/problem-solving course in Strength of Materials was taught using distant learning techniques (via PictureTel). This paper shares experiences with improving instructional techniques using this new technology.

Technology has advanced dramatically during the past two decades. Computers and their applications are part of every aspect of our lives. They are embedded in the control systems of our cars, are used in the video phones new on the market, and they are used in the cash register at McDonald’s. As new technologies become part of everyday experience, we must make them part of the educational experience. We need to put down our chalk and pick up a pointing device using current technology for communication and presentations. Development of the telescope propelled advances into outerspace. Development of the electron microscope propelled advances in interspace. Fiber optics and distant video-conferencing will move industries forward more rapidly. These technologies propel advances in instruction and learning for today’s students.

The demographics of higher education are changing rapidly. Many non-traditional students are returning to our classrooms to learn and be retrained. Many corporations are in need of retraining for their employees, and students may want to stay at home and be retrained via distant education techniques. We must teach them with new processes for learning. Traditional students have grown up with television, computer games, and fast food restaurants. Development of new instructional presentation techniques needs to occur in order to keep up with the dramatic changes occurring all around us.

Distant learning and multimedia presentations can be offered at distant locations around the world. Tomorrow’s students will be sitting at a computer terminal, and will be receiving instruction over fiber optic cables from universities that are thousand miles away. We, as faculty in the Commonwealth Education System of Penn State, are located at eighteen sites around the state. The concept of distant learning is increasingly present in our university and will become more prevalent in the future. Faculties need to be ready for these changes. We must learn to develop multimedia based teaching and its conversion to distant learning processes. These instructional processes are quickly encompassing the Eberly College of Science and the College of Engineering at Penn State. The faculty of the CES at Penn State are actively involved in this process.

The first step is understanding the capabilities of the tools available today. We will attempt to show the process for developing distant learning using PictureTel as part of the instructional delivery mode for a Strength of Materials lecture/problem-solving course. One advantage for this specific course was the laboratory component that was handled in the traditional method at each site, which allowed additional interaction with the students and any problems they may be having.

If distant learning is to take a viable place in the education of future students, it is absolutely necessary to develop effective methods of delivery without sacrificing quality. This paper briefly discusses the following topics which are some of the experiences from both the faculty and students at two distant sites using PictureTel instructional delivery methods.

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Madar, R., & Huggins, D. L. (1996, June), Teaching Engineering Via Picture Tel Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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