There are some asynchronous web-based courses available in the civil engineering technology field but to the author’s knowledge, very few courses exist in structural analysis and design. The advantages of web-based online learning include flexibility and the ability to accommodate various learning styles such as visual and auditory learners, with the visual learning style being the most common among people of college age and older. The Civil Engineering Technology program at RIT recently developed a suite of web-based courses as part of the new Certificate in Structural Design. The online courses available include Structural Analysis, Timber Design, Reinforced Concrete Design, Structural Steel Design, and Applied Mechanics. The web-based course management software used to create the e-learning environment is the Prometheus (or myCourses at RIT) platform developed at the University of Washington. This platform includes an integrated e-mail list, discussion boards, live chat rooms and an online grade book.

The purpose of this paper is to present a simple and effective approach used by the author in teaching a structural analysis distance-learning course. Structural analysis is a very analytical course that involves a lot of problem solving, diagrams and figures; consequently, a combination of web-based and text-based delivery formats was used in this course. The course was divided into several modules with each module having its own Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO’s). The course modules serve as a benchmark and compass to guide and measure student learning throughout the quarter. After the completion of each module, the students were asked to provide quantitative feedback on the ILO’s for that module to the instructor, thus enabling the instructor to reinforce any concept that may not have been fully grasped by the students. Student-toinstructor interaction was maintained through the use of the discussion board in myCourses and by e-mail. The syllabus, course modules, homework assignments and other pertinent information were posted on the course web site. Weekly homework was assigned and the students submitted their homework to the instructor by fax. A proctor that was pre-approved by the RIT Office of Online Learning proctored all the tests and the final exam in this course in the student’s locality. In this paper, the author discusses the organization of the course, the course modules and ILO’s, student-to-student and student-to-instructor interactions, feedback and guidance, and students’ responses and lessons learned. Based on the student feedback and performance in this course, we conclude that the structural analysis course has been successfully delivered via a combination of web-based and text-based delivery formats.

Publication Date



Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Civil Engineering Technology Environmental Management and Safety (CAST)


RIT – Main Campus