The continuum of distance learning in engineering education
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Distance education has rapidly emerged in the global university. The American Council of Education estimated that 85 percent of traditional colleges and universities offered, or soon would offer distance accessible classes. China alone produces more than 100,000 graduates, with more than half of China's 92,000 engineering and technology graduates having attained their degrees through distance education. As engineering education moves toward distance learning it is likely that the virtual engineering classroom will become much more student centered. The traditional classroom will likely be replaced with an intimate virtual environment. The student centered distance learning archetype will include dynamic demonstrations of theoretical engineering models allowing students to manipulate, experiment, and translate theories into real-world applications. These innovative engineering models will be virtual pedagogical adaptations suited to autonomous learners, individualized experience, and active participation. One such dynamic virtual engineering model is presented. The distance learning curriculum in engineering will emerge from the creative use of virtual technologies, theoretical adaptation, and the incorporation of comprehensive evaluation of student performance.