Distance Education and Asynchronous Learning Networks for the Delivery of Engineering Programs Over the Internet

The educational demands of our society are increasing. As we make a transition from the industrial age and increase investments in new technologies for the information age, we are also becoming a society of learners. This transition is occurring globally, and is affecting everyone. To meet these increasing demands for higher education, we will be required to realign our practices most effectively to serve the needs of learners in the 21 st century. Such realignment involve finding effective ways to solve many of the
challenges facing higher education today. 1¥s include; improving the quality and efficiency ofJearning, enhancing active learning and teamwork as .well as create an on demand and increase access to higher education for industry and working students.

 

The advances in information technologies of today, and the more advances that we will experience over. the next few decades will increase our productivity levels tremendously. We are at the beginning of the information revolution and higher education is being forced to adapt to it at a rapid pace. Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) represent an attractive and cost effective way towards the realignment of our
practices in engineering education for the information age towards Distance Learning. The financial pressures affecting higher education require us to become more efficient and more accountable. The student body in the pipeline is more diverse, older, working, raising family and live off-campus. Our teaching styles must reach out to many different learning styles. We must extend the reach of educational programs beyond the campus boundaries to reach and satisfy the demands of these new learners “customers”. If they want to learn but cannot come to campus, we must be able to reach them with products utilizing information technologies. ALN will enable us to do that in a variety of format.

Courses, degree programs, certificate programs as well as continuing education progratils could be effectively offered using ALN. This include; networked computers, communications forums, virtual class rooms and laboratories, on-line materials and real audio/video, courseware developed on CDROM and a variety of other format, textbooks in printed and electronic forms, interactive analysis of practical problems as well as
access to people and library resources. These format will not only benefit off-campus and on-demand learners, but also will be of great benefit to traditional on-campus learners who could also see the professor face-to-face.

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