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The Assessment Of A Hybrid On Line/In Class Course Developed At Multiple Universities

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1179.1 - 14.1179.7



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Paper Authors

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Carol Haden Magnolia Consulting

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Paul Flikkema Northern Arizona University

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Tom Weller University of South Florida

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Jeff Frolik University of Vermont

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Wendy Verrei-Berenback University of Vermont

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Wayne Shiroma University of Hawaii, Manoa

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


C. Haden1, P. Flikkema2, T. Weller3, J. Frolik4, W. Verrei-Berenback4 and W. Shiroma5 1 Magnolia Consulting, Charlottesville, VA 2 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 3 University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 4 University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 5 University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI

ABSTRACT – In Fall 2007, a coalition of four universities was awarded an NSF CCLI grant to support the development of a curriculum with the goal of cultivating systems thinking in students. Systems thinking, as defined in this project, is the ability to envision architectures of complex- engineered systems and the principles that underlie them. The effort, deemed MUSE – Multi- University Systems Education – has developed a unique course to instill such systems skills. This undergraduate course, Wireless Sensor Network Design, not only introduces students to a timely technology but utilizes this topic to bring together material from a variety of subject matters that students had heretofore studied in isolation. To develop the course, faculty at each institution contributed online modules in topics of their expertise but with the material refocused to emphasize relevance to sensor networks and interaction with other electrical engineering subdisciplines. These modules were created utilizing Tablet PCs and Camtasia Studio screen recording software. In Fall 2008, the course was piloted at Northern Arizona University. A hybrid lecturing approach was employed where students interacted with online content the equivalent one lecture per week and then discussed the material in-class, once a week. In this paper, assessment results of the initial course offering are reported in three areas. First, students evaluated the content delivery method along with the course content quality and engagement. Second, students were evaluated pre- and post-course with a systems-oriented task to evaluate whether holistic skills were being developed. Finally, the course developers were evaluated on the collaborative aspects of the project along with the approach for creating content.


The hybrid, online/in-class course described herein is one component of a larger, NSF-sponsored curriculum development effort that seeks to encourage systems thinking in our students. Engineering curricula tend to be compartmentalized leading to topics (e.g., electronics, power, communications in electrical engineering) being taught in isolation without providing connections as to how they are dependent in real-world systems. Our project strives to give students experience in making these connections. The course placement in the curriculum is just prior to the student’s Capstone/senior project. The trend is that Capstone projects are becoming more interdisciplinary thus creating a greater need for students to have a systems perspective. This trend is certainly true in today’s workforce, where engineering that can be performed in isolation has often become commoditized and thus outsourced, and where work which designs, specifies and/or integrates systems to meet specific customer needs provides a competitive advantage.

The collaborative development of the course was in itself a case study in systems thinking. The participants represent a broad distribution geographically and in professional training: Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the University of Vermont (UVM) contributed expertise in wireless networks, communications and online delivery; the University of Hawaii (UH) and the University of South Florida (USF) provided knowledge in microwave hardware and systems; and Magnolia Consulting developed and executed the course assessment. Just as the course content attempts to weave together a broad array of technical concepts and emphasize the important system-level


Haden, C., & Flikkema, P., & Weller, T., & Frolik, J., & Verrei-Berenback, W., & Shiroma, W. (2009, June), The Assessment Of A Hybrid On Line/In Class Course Developed At Multiple Universities Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4641

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