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2007 AACE International Transactions

DEV.02 Innovative Delivery Method For Graduate Construction Management Education

Dr. Joseph J. Orczyk, PE CCE; Kevin R. Behling; and Dr. James L. Jenkins

his paper will describe how web communication software and broadband internet connections are making it possible for students across the US to attend classes together in real time. The students, with headsets and web cameras, attend class and participate in discussions with the professor and fellow students. Not only are the students learning how to manage construction organizations, they are also preparing for the future of business communications. The class starting time 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain, and 4 p.m. Pacific, looks more like a cable television program start time instead of the start of a graduate construction management class. AACE International has a long history of encouraging graduate education in cost engineering. In 1989 AACE International developed Recommended Practice No. 12R-89, Model Master's Degree Program with Emphasis in Cost Engineering. In those days, graduate education in cost engineering related fields was only available to the full-time professional who was close to one of the few universities offering this field of study. The following is from the introduction of Recommended Practice No. 12R-89:
This model course of study for a masters degree program with emphasis in cost engineering is a product of the Education Board of AACE International, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International. The purpose of this document is to support post-graduate education in cost engineering by providing the following.

a construction management masters degree. At this time, the former BCM department head went on a six month sabbatical and interviewed BCM alumni around the country on the topic of the BCM masters degree. Beginning with the Spring 1990 semester one construction management course was taught each semester. These courses were taught one evening per week and the students consisted mainly of non-degree part time graduate students who were working full time in construction management. Enrollment in the first courses was between eight and ten students. Soon the enrollments were even lower. Even holding classes in Indianapolis (65 miles from the Purdue campus) with its larger population did not increase enrollment. The graduate construction courses were then offered on an intermittent basis as a voluntary overload by the faculty. By 2006 only a few students had received a masters degree with construction management as their primary area. The master degree enrollment in construction management never rose above eight students. The BCM faculty believed that this low enrollment was because of the following factors: Construction management employers historically have not rewarded employees with advanced degrees. Starting salaries for an employee with masters degree and limited industry experience has been the same as for an employee with just an undergraduate degree. Since 1990 there has been 100 percent placement for all undergraduate and graduate students, and the industry enjoys full employment. Construction management professional are not willing to give up their full-time jobs to become full-time students.

Guidance to faculty and students in the formulation of master's degree programs that will concentrate on cost estimating, cost control, planning and scheduling, and project management. A basis for evaluation of university programs for purposes of qualifying such schools for AACE International education support. A basis for qualifying proposed degree programs of individuals who have applied for AACE International graduate-level scholarships. And, A basis for course selection or self-study where no college program exists.

Purdue Universitys Department of Building Construction Management (BCM) also has a long history in encouraging graduate education. The fields of cost engineering and construction management have a large area of overlap. The Purdue BCM Department is part of the College of Technology (CoT). In the late 1980s, the BCM faculty began planning for

After 16 years of virtually no growth in graduate construction management student enrollment, change occurred rapidly in the 2006 2007 academic year. Enrollment jumped from zero graduate students in January 2006 to 17 students in January 2007. This growth was the result of a new program delivered by distance learning technology. The Department of Building Construction Management faculty and administration developed a new curriculum and delivery system for the fall 2006 semester. The BCM department publicized the program to both BCM alumni and companies that recruit BCM construction management students. Fourteen masters students enrolled for the fall 2006 semester.


2007 AACE International Transactions porate video, animations and even software simulations. Every student returned for the spring 2007 semester and they Adobe Presenter also allows instructors to create Flash-based were joined by three new students.
learning objects, including narration and assessments, using PowerPoint.

TECHNOLOGY OVERCOMES ENROLLMENT OBSTACLES One method considered (and rejected) to increase the graduate construction management enrollment was to videotape the graduate courses and allow students at any distance to progress at their own pace. This is called asynchronous distance education because there is a delay between the time when the professor presents the instructional materials and the time when the student views the materials. This is a modern version of the correspondence course. The BCM faculty did not embrace this concept because it allows for no class discussion and only minimal feedback from students. Purdue University promotes and supports teaching and learning technologies through the Department of Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP). In 2005, ITaP acquired and promoted Macromedia Breeze, an online communication system, to Purdue faculty and staff. This program provided tools for Web conferencing, online meetings, and multimedia presentations. The Department of Building Construction Management faculty member who attended one of these meeting immediately saw the application to the departments graduate program which was then still under development. Breeze was a product of Macromedia Inc. In December 2005 Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia. Breeze has since been renamed Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional (Connect). The following description of Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is from the Purdue ITaP website ( breeze/index.cfm).

About Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional Connect is a Web communication system that lets instructors reach an audience anytime with engaging multimedia content. Currently, two of its system components, Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional and Adobe Presenter, are available for use at Purdue University. Because Connect is deployed using Adobe Flash Player, already installed on more than 98 percent of browsers, audiences can join Connect online meetings, courses, and presentations instantly. Connect can be used for distance learning, professional development, and collaboration. Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is used for real-time meetings and seminars enriched with interactive presentations and discussion capabilities. It combines existing learning content with real-time interactivity between presenters and students for engaging collaborative teaching and learning experiences. Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional presenters can use PowerPoint slides, live and recorded video, Flash animations, live screen-sharing, audio, and two-way text chat to deliver more effective presentations. Adobe Presenter is a plug-in fully integrated with Microsoft PowerPoint that simplifies the creation and sharing of narrated, media-rich presentations. With Adobe Presenter, Purdue faculty and staff can create dynamic presentations and training courses directly from within PowerPoint. Its easy to incor-

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional allowed the faculty to develop a hybrid synchronous, interactive delivery model for the Department of Building Construction Management masters program. Synchronous distance education connects students and professors in real-time. It allows the student to be seen and to be heard, as well as to see and hear what is going on at the host site. This delivery model is a hybrid because there are also students physically attending the class at the host site. Not only can the students attend class at home or at work, but the student can also attend classes while traveling. A BCM faculty member was able to participate in classes while traveling in China. The local time in China for the class was from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Another advantage of Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional for distance learning is that it is desktop-based. This means that using Adobe Flash technology; the desktop (or laptop) computers are connected directly to each other. The software allows students and faculty to broadcast and receive live video and audio using broadband internet access, a computer, an inexpensive webcam, and a hands-free headset/microphone. In addition to the classroom meeting room URL, each student has his or her own room URL in the Connect system. These rooms are used for breakout sessions during class and for student collaboration on projects and meetings outside of class. These rooms are available to the students 24 hours per day, seven days a week. WebCT (another internet based learning software provided free of charge to Purdue students) is used to distribute documents such as PowerPoint presentations, record grades, and to provide a gateway to the Connect meeting room URLs, which never change. Attachments are seldom used with e-mail because many companies have firewalls that block some attachments. E-mail is used to notify the students of documents available on WebCT, for announcements, and for individual communications between a student and the professor. The telephone is also an appropriate technology for conversations and discussions between the students or between a student and the professor. While students can scan and e-mail written problems, assignments are also accepted via fax machine. The resident students do more than sit in the host room with the professor as the course is delivered using Connect. The resident students each use a computer in the classroom and receive the same experience as the distant students. The resident and distant students attend class together while literally being thousands of miles apart. The resident students benefit from the industry experience of their distant classmates. The distant students benefit from the computer knowledge and access to campus resources, such as the library, that the resident students have. The distant students have between four and 22 years of industry experience while the resident students tend to be traditional graduate students with limited industry experience. The connect meeting room is a series of pods which can be moved and resized. Pods include camera and voice, polls, chat, attendee list, whiteboard, notes, discussion notes, share, file share and web links. A single room can actually have multiple screens with multiple pod layouts. The classes use a room with


2007 AACE International Transactions three layouts: presentation, discussion and collaboration. Each The curriculum consists of nine three-credit courses, three onescreen has its purpose. Most of the class work is done on the credit seminars, and a three-credit directed project for a total of presentation screen. The discussion screen is used to facilitate thirty-three credits. See table 1 for the course titles. Note that classroom discussions. The collaboration screen includes a after the fifth semester the course offerings begin again with large whiteboard which the instructor can use like a chalkboard semester one. The Research Basics Seminar is a prerequisite to the Analysis of Research in Construction course. None of the for drawing illustrations during class. Managing the Connect classroom requires some multi-task- other courses or seminars is a prerequisite for another course. ing by the professor. In addition to presenting a lecture with Therefore, students may begin the program in any semester The Emerging Construction Microsoft PowerPoint, the instructor must also monitor the chat except for the summer. pod for student questions. While potentially daunting at first, Technologies Seminar will be different each time it is offered this technique is not unlike monitoring the traditional class- and it can be taken twice for credit. Every fall and spring semester begins with an intensive threeroom audience for raised hands. There are several other classroom management techniques that are helpful. First, students day seminar on the Purdue University campus in West should e-mail their presentations before class to the instructor Lafayette, Indiana. These seminars allow the students to meet for loading into the Connect room. This practice makes for the on-campus students as well as the instructors. For weeks #2 more efficient use of class time as there is some time required to through #15 the classes are offered in a virtual environment upload and convert PowerPoint files for use in Connect. through Adobe Connect. The students use a computer, webAnother suggestion is to take advantage of options provided by cam, and hands-free microphone/earphone headset, to listen to WebCT, which includes online quizzes and assignment submis- lectures, view presentations, and participate in discussions. After the on-campus seminar during the first week, classes meet sion. from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday and Thursday evenings each week for the rest of the semester. Each student THE CURRICULUM must be present at their computer for the live interactive class. The Purdue Graduate School has approved the graduate construction management curriculum as an area of specialization.

Table 1Construction Management Area of Specialization DEV.02.3

2007 AACE International Transactions dobe Connect is an online communication system that provides tools for Web conferencing, online meetings, and multimedia presentations. With this system the Purdue University Department of Building Construction Management is able to provide graduate educational opportunities to construction management professionals anywhere in the world. The only technology requirements are high speed internet access and being available from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Dr. Joseph J. Orczyk, PE CCE Associate Professor, Purdue University 401 N. Grant St. West Lafayette, IN, US 47906-2021 Phone: +1.765.494.2469 Email:

Kevin R. Behling Purdue University Department of Building Construction Management 401 N. Grant St. West Lafayette, IN 47907-2021, US Phone: +1.765.494.2469 Email:

Dr. James L. Jenkins Purdue University Department of Buillding Construction Management 401 N Grant St West Lafayette, IN 47907-2021, US Phone: +1.765.494.4705 Email: