Online Courses Allow Flexibility for On- and Off-Campus Learning

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Christine Fanchiang learned a lot from Associate Professor David Klaus before she ever set foot on the Boulder campus.

She had been accepted to the master’s program in aerospace engineering sciences, but chose to defer her admission for a year so she could continue working as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California.

So she decided to enroll in Klaus’s Space Life Sciences and Space Habitat Design courses, which are offered online through CU-Boulder’s Center for Advanced Engineering and Technology Education (CAETE).

Fanchiang says she enjoyed Klaus’s teaching so much that “I decided I wanted to work with him on my PhD.” Now she is on the Boulder campus, a full-time graduate student.

Switching from online to on-campus is a bit unusual for a student, but faculty members who offer classes via CAETE say their online students who live locally often drop by during office hours for face-to-face meetings.

“I get a lot out of helping these students getting their masters’ degrees,” Klaus says about his professional students. “I really respect people who are disciplined to do that while they are working full time. I find them to be very motivated.”

Recording lectures in one of the CAETE studios not only assists the professional community, but it also benefits on-campus students who can access course material online anytime, advocates say.

“At times, work, deadlines, or conferences can interfere with being able to attend a lecture, and this format allows students to more effectively catch up on their coursework,” says Associate Professor Hanspeter Schaub, adding that even students who come down with the flu and have to miss class can benefit.

It’s all in a day’s work for the CAETE staff, who manage three studio classrooms plus a classroom in the ECEE wing that has been made distance-learning capable.

“We have begun to establish partnerships with the engineering departments to use their smart classrooms to do course capturing ,” says CAETE Director Mario Vidalon. “We are also using virtualization and hardware-based capturing technology to make various lab courses available for our distance students.”

CUE: Academic Program: 
Center for Advanced Engineering and Technology Education

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