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FINDING THE RIGHT BLEND OF DELIVERY OPTIONS FOR SYSTEMS ENGINEERING DISTANCE EDUCATION

B. Roberts, W. Owen

Naval Postgraduate School (UNITED STATES)
This report concentrates on strategies employed when graduate systems engineering programs are delivered by multiple configurations of blended approaches to distributed education. The authors have served as program managers for these programs and have gathered lessons learned over an eleven-year period of time. Out of necessity, mixing instructional technologies was used to meet educational needs. The authors recognized the significant benefits that could be achieved through blended approaches. However, many significant challenges had to be considered. The strategies had to take into consideration Department of Defense regulations and safeguards that are employed for security reasons. These presented challenges to what would otherwise be a model delivery system. To meet these challenges, program managers developed blended strategies that included different configurations of web conferencing, online instruction, embedded faculty, and onsite faculty visits in addition to an already established video tele-education approach. The strategies were employed in a contingent manner, influenced by student dispersion and resources at the student site. In addition to providing educational opportunities to a larger audience, blended strategies helped to produce student gains that included increased engagement and personal responsibility for learning.