College of engineering celebrates National Distance Learning Week

National Distance Learning WeekThe college of engineering participated in the weeklong celebration (Nov. 11-15), National Distance Learning Week, sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association. The celebration included at least one event each day to bring attention to the current distance education programs within the college and the vision to grow the programs and capabilities.

“This was the first time the Dwight Look College of Engineering participated in National Distance Learning Week,” said Dr. Yakut Gazi, assistant vice chancellor for remote education. “We had faculty, staff and students from not only the college but also from across the campus attending the variety of events that highlight technologies that bridge the distance between the real world and the classroom, and increase opportunities for access to educational experiences.  As the college embarks upon a new era in terms of reinventing engineering education, events like this are important to create platforms for continuing engagement and conversations from all stakeholders.”

The week kicked off with a VGo robot (which has the capability to replicate a person in a distant location) demonstration in the Engineering Innovation Center.  

Other events included a presentation by Dr. P.K. Imbrie, director of undergraduate programs, about the direction of the Foundations of Engineering (ENGR 111) course. ENGR 111 is the first engineering course freshman take that focuses on fundamental engineering concepts. 

Participants also had the chance to attend a training session for the Blackboard Learn Grade Center, which is the grading mechanism in Blackboard, a learning-management system.

National Distance Learning Week also debuted the monthly series, T-Time, which is an opportunity for faculty to gather and discuss technology over tea and refreshments. The intent is for faculty to learn and share information with other faculty members about their experiences using technology in and out of the classroom.

The week concluded with a live hourlong Twitter chat for newly accepted undergraduate and transfer students in the college of engineering. The students were invited to the chat to ask questions to college recruiters and advisers about the college of engineering.

“National Distance Learning Week with the college of engineering provided faculty and staff an opportunity to come together to discuss distance education and offered faculty development opportunities,” said Amber Muenzenberger, remote learning and outreach education director. “We received very positive feedback from the faculty and staff with respect to the VGo robot demonstration and the T-Time events.  We look forward to hosting additional T-Times to provide a venue for faculty to discuss incorporating technology into face-to-face and distance education courses."  

Faculty and staff were also invited to an open panel, led by Gazi and Muenzenberger, to discuss distance education. 

To learn more about National Distance Learning Week, visit http://www.usdla.org/ndlw/. For questions about distance education in the college of engineering, contact Dr. Yakut Gazi yakut@tamu.edu or Amber Muenzenberger atmberger@tamu.edu.