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Undergraduate instruction drives distance learning

Portrait of Greg Moses, Professor, Engineering Physics

Gregory Moses (large image)

Portrait of John Strikwerda, Professor, Computer Sciences

John Strikwerda (large image)

Technical applications and innovations that advance distance learning frequently come from grassroots undergraduate initiatives ... often with help from undergraduates themselves.

Case in point: Problem-Solving With Computers (CS 310), a seven-year-old required course for engineering majors. Until this academic year, the approximately 300 students in the class took it in person, via auditorium-sized lectures punctuated with small lab sections.

However, this year's students are taking part of the course in a digital experiment, "engineered" by students, for students. Instructors have replaced the biweekly in-person lectures with streaming video, so now students view lectures on the Internet.

Last summer, Engineering Physics Professor Gregory Moses and John Strikwerda, a computer sciences and mathematics professor, led a dozen undergraduates who had taken the course in its lecture-hall incarnation in reorganizing it around new eTEACH software developed by Strikwerda, Moses and programmer Mike Litzkow.

"The students shot the video, captured it in digital format and authored the eTEACH presentation," Moses says. "Today, the streaming video lectures are delivered through a Web browser and coordinated with PowerPoint slides, a dynamic table of contents and external URL references."