Remotely Speaking

September 27, 2002
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A review of the ALTA/ACSM course offered through Auburn University’s distance education series.

POB magazine is excited to announce a beneficial partnership with Auburn University (AU) in Alabama. Through this partnership, POB extends the offerings of Auburn University’s Engineering & Surveying Professional Development Distance Learning Series. Interested students can choose from a wide variety of professional topics varying in length from three to 15 hours to be completed by videotape, CD-ROM or online. For more information, visit Following is a review of the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey course instructed by POB’s Milton Denny, PLS.

Videotaped continuing education is a positive experience where you can set the pace and schedule.

The Course in Review by Mike Davis, RPLS

The ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys course consists of three videotapes of approximately an hour each. There is a booklet containing most of the visual aids and equations outlined within the taped seminar as well as other materials such as a course examination to be returned to Auburn’s Continuing Education Department for final grading and accreditation of Continuing Education Units (CEUs), Professional Development Hours (PDHs), etc. The Texas and Florida Boards require the participant to fill out the evaluation form, thereby giving him or her a chance to “grade” the producer of the educational seminar.

This was my first experience with distance learning via videotape, but it didn’t take long to realize the benefits of this type of instruction. I could pause or rewind the tapes to fully understand what was being presented and I could take these seminars at my own pace.

The first tape of the series begins with Milton Denny’s monologue about the “what and why” of the ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey. Denny urges the audience to follow along with a copy of the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys, which can be downloaded from

After Denny’s explanation of the Requirements and the caveats of certifications, the viewer is presented with Gary Kent’s informative explanation of the “positional tolerance” criteria. Kent’s straightforward examples using real equipment specification data and real life situations for both accuracy and precision and positional tolerances will be of great help for the “statistically challenged” surveyor. The subsequent interview between Denny and Kent concisely answers the question of how “positional tolerance” fits into the final part of a standard “short form” ALTA Survey Certification.

On the third tape Denny delves into the semantics of surveying as opposed to the rigorously defined Minimum Standard Detail Requirements. His opinions and ideas aren’t germane to ALTA surveys and can be used in various surveying projects. As Denny indicated in the first tape, the viewer is urged to “walk” the survey with a preliminary plot and observe and check items before signing and sealing an ALTA survey. Denny’s personal experiences with researching various governmental entities required to produce an ALTA survey are very insightful to the pitfalls one can encounter. This final tape deals more with procedures than the actual performance of an ALTA survey, but also has some unique examples of where ALTA surveys may be headed with a color plot that includes various digital photos as part of an odd-sized final plot. The last subject on the third and final tape is the Surveyor’s Report.

I found that videotaped continuing education is a positive experience — where you can set the pace and schedule — and a practical alternative to sitting in a classroom for hours.

Mike B. Davis is the survey department manager of Dunaway Associates Inc.’s Dallas office. He is registered in six states and has performed in a variety of land surveying functions over his 25 years in land surveying.

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