A Systems Framework for Distance Learning in Engineering Graduate Programs

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2012


Distance learning (DL) is undergoing a rapid growth in academia, business, industry, and the military. Recent technological developments in computer‐based training, along with shrinking internal resources, and rising industry interest in sustainable workforce development, provide a strong impetus for DL investments. Due to the multiplicity of efforts involved in planning and executing a DL program, it is imperative that organizations view this nontraditional mode of knowledge transfer from a systems perspective. This paper presents a coordination‐centric systems framework for implementing a DL program using the SIMILAR systems engineering process. The paper also suggests linking SIMILAR to two complementary models, Triple C and D‐E‐J‐I, to enhance the overall systems approach. Implementing DL from a systems view aids in identifying the interrelating components, resource interfaces, and improvements needed in techniques used to deliver educational material at a distance. The proposed framework is effective in assisting DL instructors, students, administrators, and other stakeholders to improve the learning environment and manage the complex interaction of people, technology, and instructional processes. Because of its large and diverse operational base, the military is embracing DL programs aggressively. An example is presented of the DL program for graduate systems engineering program at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT).
Abstract © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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Systems Engineering

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