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Issues with the Provision of an Online Four-Year Degree Program in Land Surveying/Geomatics

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The use of the Internet as an effective vehicle to deliver college courses to students has matured in the past several years, moving past the sole use of course management software to allow technological enhancements such as synchronous class meetings over the Internet, pod casts, and streaming video. These tools can be combined in a way that best achieves the learner outcomes of each blended online course. The design of an online four-year degree program involves a commitment of the educational institution to provide all of the necessary coursework over the Internet, not just survey courses. The curriculum design must deal with the need for hands-on laboratory work; the provision of laboratory instructors and software/hardware at distant sites; the entry of new students presenting a wide range of experience and educational achievement; advisement-at-distance; and mentoring by the profession. Research comes up short on providing concrete guidance for the development and maintenance of an online program in any academic/professional discipline, let alone land surveying/geomatics. This paper deals with those phantom issues (those that did not materialize) and the real issues that did emerge during program development. The Nevada experience in distance education confirms that the technology has evolved to provide the basic tools for effective online courses, but the instructor has to accept the fact that his or her role will be substantially different. Online courses will not be successful if the instructor conducts them as if they were in residence or live classes. The educational institution must commit to the provision of those online courses necessary to complete a four-year degree. With classes moving online, licensed land surveyors have an opportunity for an important participative role in education, as mentors and laboratory instructors to students in geographically different locations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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