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Engineering Education Anywhere, Anytime: From Distance Education to Blended Learning At Deakin University Australia

John Long (Deakin University, Australia)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Institutional Strategies & Innovations
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Blended Program/Degree
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 6
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 4

For over 20 years, Deakin University Australia has taught undergraduate engineering by distance education and online learning.

Extended Abstract

In 2005 the Sloan Consortium called for engineering education to be available "anywhere, anytime."* Increasing numbers of engineering departments are interesting in offering their programs by means of online learning. These schools grapple with several difficulties and issues associated with wholly online learning: course structure, communication with students, delivery of course material, delivery of exams, accreditation, equity between on-campus and off-campus students, and especially the delivery of practical training.

Deakin University faced these same challenges when it commenced teaching undergraduate engineering via distance education in the early 1990's. It now offers a fully accredited Bachelor of Engineering degree in both on-campus and off-campus modes, with majors that include civil, mechanical, electrical/electronics, and mechatronics/robotics.

This presentation describes Deakin's unique off-campus delivery, students, curricula, approaches to practical work, and solutions to the problems mentioned above. Attendees will experience how Deakin Engineering delivers course materials, communicates with off-campus students, runs off-campus classes, and even delivers lab experience to students living thousands of miles away from the home campus. On display will be experimental lab kits, video presentations, student projects, and online broadcasts of freshman lab experiments. Participants will have the opportunity to see some of these resources hands-on. I will also discuss recent innovations in off-campus delivery of courses, including how flipping the classroom has led to blended learning with the on-campus students.

Many universities have placed engineering distance education into the too-hard basket. Deakin Engineering demonstrates that it is possible to deliver a full undergraduate degree by means of distance education and online learning, and modern technology makes the job easier than ever before. The benefits to the professor are many, not the least of which is helping a student living in a remote area or with a full-time job become fully trained and qualified in engineering.

* J. Bourne, D. Harris, and F. Mayadas, "Online Engineering Education: Learning Anywhere, Anytime," Journal of Engineering Education vol. 94, pp. 131-146.

Lead Presenter

Dr. Long originally trained in physics at the University Of Michigan (Flint) and in materials science at the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors Corporation. He graduated in 1987. In 1995 he completed a PhD in physics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Since 1995 he has been a lecturer at Deakin University, teaching physics, materials science, and electronics. He is an expert in distance education and online learning. His research interests include materials science and analysis; and engineering education.