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Capitol’s Roots Are in Distance Learning  _ Capitol Technology University

Capitol’s Roots Are in Distance Learning 

As universities across the nation switch to purely online classes, some are calling this a new look at education. I’d call it a retro take—we’re going back to a mode of education Capitol perfected in 1927. In essence, we’re returning to our roots as a correspondence school, only better. To start, let’s take online-essay-help net a peek at Capitol’s origins.

Founded in 1927 as the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute (CREI), Capitol Tech was entirely a radio/electronics correspondence school for the first 5 years of its existence. Correspondence schools follow this model: send the student books, kits of parts, and instructional guides; then mail students a lesson in print or as an audio tape; students send write-ups of their results which are assessed; and finally the next lesson is mailed out and the process is repeated. This is the exact situation we find ourselves in now—teaching at a distance. 

This means, after almost one hundred years, we’re back to the idea of sending students kits and pre-recorded materials, then parceling out instructional assignments and providing feedback. Only now we have the internet and aren’t limited to the postal service. And, the good news is that Capitol already knows how to effectively teach online and has the infrastructure to support it. 

We teach in a variety of modes: purely online, traditional on-ground, and ‘hybrid’ mixes. We run some material synchronously, meaning everyone attends a course taught by a professor at the same time, and some asynchronous courses, meaning students work at their own pace and on their own schedule. Both historically and pragmatically, this switch to wrapping up the semester is not something we don’t know how to do—it’s just something we had to do unexpectedly. As a result, though, it’s allowing us to perfect our online only teaching tactics.

Case in point, this weekend the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) held a virtual conference to replace their cancelled on-ground conference, and pivoted the theme to Virtual Learning. This was an info-sharing meetup for professors of all types to share techniques, practices, and formats for all-online instruction. 

The Capitol led ASEE breakout session detailed how to create design-build-test projects remotely. These projects use two learning styles: pre-defined problems and need-based problems. What do these mean? Pre-defined problems resemble our 1920s correspondence classes, where students are given kits and goals, then complete the experiments. We’ve got that covered. Need-based problems entail students designing their own projects, which means the solution could require just about anything. This is how we already do our Senior Capstone Design classes. 

At ASEE, one best practice we discussed to present these courses so they work via distance learning is to assert limits ferociously. For example, ‘any idea, but you can only use the supplied parts’. I call this our CubeSat limits-based engineering model, as our Capitol CubeSat was designed with the parameters: do anything, as long as it’s under 1.4kg, fits in a 10x10x10 cm cube, and uses 2 batteries plus a Raspberry Pi minicomputer. 

Looking back at the big picture, you can see this current crisis-caused pivot to purely online learning as an opportunity for Capitol to commingle its strengths as a correspondence school and its existing capability for online education and research.  If you’re at all familiar with our institution, you know this mix is a perfect example of  ‘Find a way or make one’ Capitol’s motto. This is just the kind of resiliency we’re always  teaching our students.

Capitol Technology University where learning like it’s the 1920s is still more modern than most. 

By Sandy Antunes