VOLUME 13, NO. 3 June 2001
WPIís Advanced Distance Learning Network (ADLN) is helping working professionals advance their careers without losing their balance. "Work is a very busy, fast-paced place these days--particularly for those in management and engineering positions," says ADLN Assistant Director Pamela Shelley. "These men and women work late, they travel, and they juggle projects and family responsibilities. To remain current or advance in their fields they need to take courses--but getting to a 6 oíclock class is often impossible, given the demands on their time and the unpredictability of their schedules."
WPI established ADLN in 1979 and was one of the first universities to offer a distance learning MBA with no residency requirement. "Through a variety of media and communication tools, ADLN links students and faculty from around the world into a virtual community of learners--assuring that they also receive the personal attention that is a hallmark of a WPI education," says ADLN Director Pennie S. Turgeon. "The result is a dynamic learning environment that provides todayís professional with the best of both worlds: the opportunity to study at one of the nationís leading universities, and the flexibility to do it at a convenient time and place."
In addition to overseeing the ADLNís day-to-day operations, Shelley is charged with marketing and growing the program. In that capacity she is working with McRae C. Banks, professor and head of the Department of Management, David A. Lucht, director of WPIís Center for Firesafety Studies, Frederick L. Hart, professor and head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Jeanne M. Gosselin, director of graduate admissions, Norman D. Wilkinson, director of graduate management programs, and other administrators and faculty. "I know what drives students," she says. "The academic departments help me understand the market, their programs, and why students enroll in them."
In addition to the MBA, master of science degrees in fire protection engineering and environmental engineering are offered through ADLN, along with graduate certificate programs in these areas. "WPI is the only university to offer distance learning in fire protection engineering," says Lucht. "For FPE students, the problem is compounded because there isnít a university that offers this program near where they live and work. Only WPI and the University of Maryland offer these courses on campus and WPI is the only one to offer the program by distance learning. We provide a real service to engineers in California or Texas or Florida who wish to pursue an FPE masterís degree."
Students may enroll in WPI ADLN graduate courses before formally applying for admission to a degree or certificate program. All ADLN courses contain the same content as their classroom counterparts and are taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus. Distance learners have access to the Universityís support services, including computing and networking support, access to the Career Development Center, and full use of the research library--including its extensive online services.
In the future, WPI will focus on expanding the ADLN program by formulating new partnerships with companies to provide courses and certificates tailored to the specific needs of their employees. "Companies are developing ícorporate universitiesí to educate and retain employees," Shelley says. "Through our partnerships we will work with employers to decide how best to further their employeesí education and meet competitive needs." WPIís efforts are already paying off. Ten ADLN courses were offered this past semester; 20 will be available this fall.
For more information about WPIís ADLN program, call 508-831-5220, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit online.wpi.edu.
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