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University of Florida Forensic Science Distance Education
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  1. University of FloridaForensic ScienceDistance Education Mary EdwardsSpring 2010 Distance Education Leadership & Management

  2. Contents • Introduction • Program Overview • Accreditation and Oversight • Marketplace Context • Leadership • Program Features • Success Factors • Conclusion

  3. Introduction • The recent growth in popular television shows like CSI, NCSI highlights the work of forensic scientists and popularized the field: “Interest in forensic science has increased dramatically in the past 10 years.” – From the below referenced Technical Working Group on Education and Training in Forensic Science Report • Forensic Science Education programs are at the Undergraduate and Graduate (primarily Masters) level

  4. Introduction • University of Florida offers Masters Degrees and Certificate Programs in general Forensic Science and specific concentrations • Students refer to themselves as “investi-Gators” • An interdisciplinary program based out of the Colleges of Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine • Library Support: Provided by the Health Science Center Library

  5. Program Overview • Program Website: http://www.forensicscience.ufl.edu/ • Offerings: • Certificates (12 credit hour) • Master of Science • Certificates: • Environmental Forensics • Forensic Death Investigation • Forensic Toxicology • Clinical Toxicology • Drug Chemistry • Forensic DNA & Serology • Degrees: • MS in Forensic Toxicology • MS in Drug Chemistry • MS in Forensic DNA & Serology • MS in Forensic Science

  6. Program Overview • Has demonstrated continual growth including a 50% enrollment increase over last year • Currently 928 students enrolled • Students are working professionals in a variety of settings including crime & industry labs and schools • Many students are currently deployed active duty military personnel

  7. Program Overview • Global Forensic Science Education = Partnerships with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Canberra • Demonstrates an interest in incorporating technology to enhance teaching and social networking to enhance the community of practice • Won the 2006 (Association for Distance Education) ADEC Excellence Award

  8. Success Factors • Success factors include: • A specific niche marketexperiencing growth • A visionary leader • Continual expansion • Global partnerships • Solid curricula • A strong sense of student community

  9. Accreditation and Oversight • From the Technical Working Group on Education and Training in Forensic Science (of which Dr. Ian Tebbett was a member) “To ensure that these programs adequately prepare practitioners for their careers in operational laboratories, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has supported West Virginia University’s establishment of the Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science for the purpose of recommending best practices for educational curriculums in forensic science. “

  10. Recommendations for Graduate Degrees • What the report says about graduate degree programs: “Graduate programs can move students from theoretical concepts to discipline-specific knowledge. Exemplary curriculums can include such topics as crime scenes, physical evidence, law/ science interface, ethics, and quality assurance to complement the student’s advanced coursework…By emphasizing written and oral communication and report writing, graduate programs can prepare students for future courtroom testimony. “

  11. Marketplace Context • Forensic Science education is growing and there are an increasing number of face-to-face programs that provide undergraduate and graduate degrees (taskforce report) • The UF program leads the market for online Forensic Science Education • Makes use of a third party tools including google analytics, google ads and a marketing service

  12. Marketplace Context • A positive employment outlook results in growth of educational programs. • From the Occupational Outlook Handbook: Jobs for forensic science technicians are expected to increase by 20 percent, which is much faster than average. Employment growth in State and local government should be driven by the increasing application of forensic science techniques, such as DNA analysis, to examine, solve, and prevent crime.

  13. Leadership • Program co-directors: Ian Tebett and Eileen OliverIan Tebbett is a visionary leader and under his leadership the program has: • Added degrees and concentrations • Experienced continued phenomenal enrollment growth • He is an advocate for global partnerships and models this ideal in his programs • His forensic programs are self-funded and profit generating

  14. Leadership • Dr. Tebbett is involved with distance education leadership initiatives on campus and beyond • Examples of campus involvement: • Campus wide distance education taskforces • Self-funded program approval committee • He constantly seeks technological solutions to improve the learning experience of his students, but is mindful of pedagogical value and doesn’t adopt “cool tools” for their novelty

  15. Examples of Technological Innovation • Example: Pedagogical Problem – Recreating a crime scene and introducing elements of interactivityTechnology Solutions – Second Life and virtual worlds were trialed but were rejected because of graphic qualityWorking with a developer to create an interactive 360 degree camera view mobile application

  16. Program Faculty • Faculty come primarily from 2 UF Colleges: Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine • UF faculty are campus based and also teach in other programs • Other program faculty come from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and University of Canberra University (Australia) • Leveraging expertise by the use of excellent adjunct faculty

  17. Program Features Overview • Curriculum • Global Goals • Collaboration • Student Community Engagement (high levels of student-student interactions)

  18. Program Features: Curricular • All programs require a few core courses and electives in the area of concentration • It is expected that students have prior knowledge and use of equipment from undergraduate lab courses • Many of the students are working in lab settings (state or federal crime labs, private forensic labs, corporate and industry labs) and use the lab access to build upon the theoretical knowledge in coursework

  19. Core Courses • Literature Survey in Forensic Science (or Forensic Toxicology, DNA Serology, etc. based on area of concentration – requires a literature search and review • Principles of Forensic Science • Special Topics (includes a face-to-face component with oral and written comprehensive exams) – usually taken in the final semester • Students can substitute other experiences (like workshops for the literature class) but Special Topics is required for graduation

  20. Program Features: Global Goals • Global Goals: “The goal is to make quality educational materials in forensic science available internationally and in multiple languages in an effort to develop an international network of organizations involved in training and education in crime detection and prevention” (Dr. Ian Tebbett, Program Director)

  21. Collaboration and Partnerships • Partnerships with a variety of international institutions and organizations to develop and deliver their programs : • the University of Edinburgh in Scotland • University of Canberra • Canberra Institute of Technology • Australian Federal Police • SilpakornUniversity in Bangkok • FeevaleUniversity in Brazil

  22. Program Features: Community • Anecdotal evidence (from student quotes, comments, and forum participation) indicates a strong sense of community and connectedness with peers regardless of the distance • Many students continue to participate in program communication after leaving the program via the program announcement discussion boards • Students get together at conferences and meetings whenever possible (from periodioc observation of the discussion boards)

  23. Program Features: Community • See the following slides and screen captures for examples of the community and participation of forensic science students: • Elearning announcement section • Forensic Science Blog • Facebook group

  24. Current and past students provide positive feedback regarding their overall learning experience Students comment on the sense of community within the program

  25. The Forensic Science Blog leverages web 2.0 philosophies of RSS news feeds, interactive web design, and the participatory web

  26. Social networking tools like Facebook are utilized to increase student engagement and provide a social outlet for prospective, current, and past students. Anecdotal evidence from the program director (Ian Tebbett) suggests that the facebookgrouphas served a secondary function as an effective (and surprising) marketing tool

  27. Conclusion • Program growth and feedback from students is evidence of success • Strong and Innovative leadership • Relevant curriculum • The UF Forensic Science Program is responding to a market place need in 2 ways: • By offering graduate level forensic science education • By offering high quality distance education geared toward working professionals

  28. References • American Academy of Forensic Sciences – http://www.aafs.org/pdf/NIJReport.pdf • Society of Forensic Toxicologists – http://www.soft-tox.org/ • Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics - http://www.bls.gov/oco/ • THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF ONLINE LEARNING - http://online.education.ufl.edu/mod/resource/view.php?id=49285