Online space studies graduate education: University of North Dakota experience
Santhosh Seelan Professor and Graduate Director, Department of Space Studies John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA 14th ISU Annual International Symposium
Grand Forks, North Dakota Population: 53,000 (city), 76,000 (including EGF, Air Force base and UND students)
University of North Dakota • • • •
Founded in 1883 549 acre (220 ha) campus ~13000 students 52% of students come from ND, the rest from all other states, Canadian provinces and 50 other nations • 100,000+ graduates • 800+ faculty members • 193 fields of study in 10 colleges
University of North Dakota • Classified as a Doctoral/Research Intense University by the Carnegie Foundation • One of few schools in the country with colleges of Aerospace, Law and Medicine in one campus • Strong athletic tradition, particularly in hockey
John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences
• Named after its founder. Started as an aviation program • Grew from two aircrafts and three instructors in 1968 to 120 aircrafts and a complex of seven buildings on campus and Grand Forks airport • With over 100,000 hours of flight training per year, is considered one of the largest flight schools in the world
John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences More than 2200 students enrolled in:
• • • • •
Aviation Computer Science Atmospheric Sciences Space Studies Earth System Science and Policy
Department of Space Studies • In the early 1980s, John D. Odegard, the Dean of the school, invited Buzz Aldrin, to come to UND to help organize a space education program • Based on Aldrin’s recommendation, Dr. David Webb (a member of the 1985-1986 Presidential Commission on Space) takes over as the first Chair of the Department in 1987.
• UND Space Studies Department’s goal/mission is to provide broad-based, interdisciplinary space studies education • UND Space Studies Masters combines, space physical science, space life science, space engineering, space policy and law, space business and economics, and space history.
• Started as a campus based program • Taking advantage of the Internet explosion in the 1990s, the department began offering classes through distance learning via http://www.space.edu • By 1998, the Space Studies Masters became the largest Masters program in UND • Today, there are over 650 alumni working in commercial space industry, NASA, military, and other organizations.
What UND offers • M.S. in Space Studies (in both campus and distance mode)
• Undergraduate minor in Space Studies (campus only)
• Ph.D. in Aerospace Studies (in collaboration with the Department of Aviation) is under consideration
Masters students • On campus • ~10-20 traditional students on campus from US and international • Typical age 22-27 • Study full time, 6 to 9 credits per semester • Distance • ~100 students primarily from US and Canada • Typical age 30-50 • Employed full time • Study part time, 3 to 6 credits per semester • On-campus Capstone, 1 week in mid May
Distance masters degree - delivery methods Synchronous model • Courses taught simultaneously to campus and distance students using live webcast and interactive tools like adobe connectpro
Asynchronous model • All courses taught on campus in a traditional manner, but taped in a professional facility • Videos, power points and all other materials available at the class web site • Next semester, (or sometimes during the same semester), same course is taught to distance students via the Internet • Students watch videos on regular semester schedule • Virtual weekly chat sessions • Same assignments, exams, etc. as campus students • Email assignments or upload at class web site
Degree requirements • Non-thesis option • • • • • • • • • •
Minimum of 33 credits to include: Survey of Space Studies I Survey of Space Studies II Space Studies Colloquium Independent Study Report Two courses from designated social area courses outside the student’s area of specialization Two courses from designated technical area courses outside the student’s area of specialization At least three elective courses for distance students and four for campus students Space Studies Capstone (for distance students only) Comprehensive Examination
Degree requirements • Thesis option • • • • • • • • •
Minimum of 33 credits to include: Survey of Space Studies I Survey of Space Studies II Space Studies Colloquium Two courses from designated social area courses outside the student’s area of specialization Two courses from designated technical area courses outside the student’s area of specialization At least two elective courses Individual Research in Space Studies Thesis Distance students who wish to complete the thesis option must satisfy the residence requirement.
Student feedback on space studies distance education • Advantages • Study while you work full time or travel, and still have time for family • Ability to create one’s own, flexible schedule and work at one’s own pace • Ability to watch the video lectures repeatedly till a concept is understood. • Use of multiple formats and tools: class web site with all resources like power points of lectures, recorded lectures, online chats and transcripts, reading materials, online exams, etc. • Learning from peers, most of whom are employed in the space industry already • Senior, experienced professionals as peers, which also helps in networking for jobs
Student feedback on space studies distance education • Disadvantages • No face to face interaction with faculty and fellow students, except during capstone week • Access to professors limited to e-mails and phone calls which impacted advising • Lack of opportunities for socializing with fellow students and faculty • Miss the campus experience • Time differences for chat sessions • Takes longer time to complete the program
Student feedback on space studies distance education • Challenges • • • • • • • • •
Self motivation Time management Balancing work, study and family Finding Internet access while traveling Establishing a rapport with professors Dealing with university procedures and various offices Organizing group projects like capstone Access to certain campus facilities Technology failures that can affect chat participation
Alumni survey question: Is the distance program comparable to a campus program?
Total respondents to the question: 46
Alumni survey question: Was the time and money spent on obtaining the degree worth the effort?
Total respondents to the question: 55
Summary • UND offers a Masters degree in Space Studies through both campus and distance programs • The distance program offers certain advantages, disadvantages and challenges for both students and professors • Overall, the advantages outweigh disadvantages • With improvements in technology, the challenges are minimal • Distance education model likely to be extended to the Ph.D. program under consideration
Thanks! www.space.edu [email protected]