Video is used for content that must be
presented utilizing visuals such as video tape, slides, charts,
graphs, drawings and demonstrations. Since video is a more expensive
medium to use because of the cost of wideband transmission, it
should be used selectively when the content requires it. All
content does not need to be presented over video. After primary
information has been presented on video, some interaction may
take place if there is time left in the class period and if the
instructor has planned for interaction.
Video technology provides numerous advantages.
It increases instructor productivity, encourages participative
teaching styles, and promotes and
optimizes the highest ideals in advancing education. Coupled
with audio conferencing and computer conferencing technologies,
an entirely new group of resources becomes available. Interaction
can be carried on through more cost efficient audio and computer
technologies which can be available to students in synchronous
or asynchronous modes as the content or the instructor requires.
Classes should be taped and made available to students.
If class room space is at a premium, video
conferences can be switched to the campus closed circuit network
so that students can view the class in their dormitory room.
They can interact by calling into the origination site on campus
or at a distant campus.
To continue the discussion during the next
regular class period, the class can meet via audio conference
bridge. The equipment required for this is an audio conference
bridge with enough ports on it to accommodate the size of the
class. During the audio conference the instructor can present
new material that does not require video for presentation, answer
questions, and set up and interaction between students so that
they are able to share information and experiences. Audio conferencing
should be used when synchronous (real time) discussion is required.
During the early part of the course, audio conferencing can be
used more to dispel the student's sense of isolation from instructor
and peers. Formal audio conferences should be scheduled well
in advance, an agenda should be set by the instructor, and students
should have hard copies in their study guide or text of visuals
that were used in the video class. To bring a different element
into the course, guest experts in the content field can be asked
to present lectures or participate in question and answer periods
through the audio conference. Additional visual materials can
be mailed, faxed to students. Text can be sent via computer.
Attendance should be taken during the audio conference and the
instructor should require students to interact as part of their
grade. Classes should be taped and made available to students.
As with video conferencing, audio conferencing
is approached differently than a traditional class; there is
a big difference in presentation. Use an agenda with paragraphs
explaining discussion points. Handouts are important for visual
learners. Throughout the class, use visuals. Involve students
early in the audio conference to make them comfortable with the
medium. Get participants talking within the first few minutes
by asking for names and locations. To create pace, alternate
short presentations with discussion, visuals, or a work sheet.
Keep segments shorter than ten minutes. Use more visuals late
in the program to provide focus and relieve boredom. Combine
male and female teams as the change is pleasant to the ear and
provides variety. Use people with accents who are immediately
identifiable. Plan the presentation order to vary the voices.
Plan the wrap-up. The worst thing one can ask in a 20-site audio
conference is, "Are there any questions?" Instead,
ask if there are "Any questions in Dallas?" Everyone
in Dallas will look at each other and silently nominate someone
to ask a question.
Audio conferencing can be used for group
work when a small group of students is assigned a team project.
They would meet via the audio conference bridge at scheduled
times to complete their work. The project work can be presented
by video, audio, and computer conference depending upon the content.
Transmission costs for audio conferencing
can be transferred to students as they dial the audio conference
bridge. Toll free numbers are provided for instructors.
Voice mail for faculty and students will extend the bounds of
instructor accessibility for students. Voice mail can be provided
to students as a component of their dormitory telephone service
or as a dial in voice mail box for students living off-campus.
With voice mail, complete interactions can take place asynchronously.
The student has a question that needs to be answered outside
of regular class hours. The instructor can a dial the student's
voice mailbox and leave a complete answer when it is convenient.
Because this can be done from any phone in the world, instructor's
can be accessible to students at all times. This service will
reduce the student's sense of isolation.
Touch Tone Interaction: More sophisticated touch tone telephone programs
can provide lectures and drill for students. Students access
the computer based system by regular telephone. A menu is presented
and students select the option they want by touching a number
on the telephone pad. The system branches to that content and
can present information. A second menu provides a branch to a
self-test. The system asks and questions and provides a menu
of answer options which correspond to the telephone keypad. Students
touch the number that they think is right. The system responds
by telling the student if they are right or wrong and if wrong,
the system provides the right answer.
Computer conferencing is used to continue
the discussion when real time interaction is not required. For
some courses, computer conferencing may be sufficient. Because
the classroom is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, students
have the flexibility to schedule their learning time around their
other personal and professional commitments. Computer conferencing
represents a new domain for educational interaction and it is
essentially collaborative and team based.
Student and faculty equipment needs include
a computer, telecommunications software, conferencing software,
modem and a regular telephone line. The host site must have a
computer capable of handling and storing thousands of messages,
telecommunications software, conferencing software, a bank of
modems and telephone lines. Computer conferencing programs enable
the student and instructor to dial into the academic computer
when it is convenient. Each student is issued a private electronic
mailbox on the system and share access to a group mailbox which
is the focal point for instructor communication to the class
as well as the vehicle for group discussion. Software is menu-driven,
and supports simple commands for uploading, downloading, capturing,
and storing files.
Students receive course materials by mail.
Students follow a study guide prepared for the course by a design
team as well as a traditional textbook, case studies and other
materials. Instructors can add or delete assignments. Some institutions
are creating interactive computer aided components which can
be sent to students on computer disk, CD-ROM or accessed through
the campus computer network. Each week, instructors provide a
lecture focusing on the week's important content which students
download. Group and individual assignments are customary. Students
send homework assignments to class mailboxes. Instructors grade
the homework and can send back a marked assignment or a grade
with notes. Students file a weekly summary to focus on what they
have learned that is particularly relevant to them.
Interaction by students may account for
up to 40 percent of the grade. With the requirement for meaningful
interaction, students seldom fail to participate. Once they begin
to interact, it becomes a pattern for them. The benefits to the
student are significant. The nature of the system enables students
to prepare very thoughtful responses, and therefore the quality
of information is very high. Decision making can take longer
and sometimes students will conference on the telephone to work
out logistical issues in completing group projects if time becomes
an issue. Their writing and critical thinking ability increases.
They cannot hide in the back of the room behind one or two class
stars who answer all of the question. If students don't speak
up, everyone notices. Quality of content overrides personality
or charisma. A text-based system has an equalizing affect. Since
students cannot see one another, they're less inclined to typecast
them. The only thing that counts is the quality of the student's
ideas. Faculty are able to provide significant one-to-one instruction
to students when they need it - or within a few hours of when
a question is asked. The amount of time available to each student
is increased because it is not confined to the traditional class
hours. Most schools require that students and faculty log on
five days each week. When real time interaction is necessary,
students and faculty use the telephone or audio conferencing.
In this mode a number of smaller assignments
is due each week. All assignments are posted to mailboxes which
are open to the class. Students react to one another's assignments
by critiquing the assignment, making additional suggestions,
providing other information, or asking for additional information.
This process contributes to higher developmental levels of understanding
and their collaborative work skills are honed by the requirements
of the course. The act of formulating and verbalizing one's own
ideas as well as responding to ideas by others are important
cognitive skills. Collaboration contributes to higher order learning
through cognitive restructuring or conflict resolution. Whereas
in the face-to-face classroom environment up to 60-80 percent
of the verbal exchange during class time comes from the teacher
(Dunkin & Biddle, 1974; McDonald & Elias, 1976), this
pattern is the opposite in computer and audio conferencing (Lane,
1990). Analyses of various online courses indicates that the
instructor contributes 10-15 percent of the message volume and
of the number of conference messages (Harasim, 1987; Winkelmans,
1988). This is not a correspondence course by modem; interaction
in this medium is significantly higher than in traditional classes.
The availability of an archived transcript of the class facilitates
reflective review of previous comments and discussion prior to
providing an answer. As a medium, it is particularly conducive
to brainstorming, networking, group synergy, and sharing information.
It is an information rich environment. Final examinations are
usually open book and are sent to the instructor's mail box which
cannot be accessed by students.
An example of a group assignment might
be a consensus ranking exercise. Students are given seven points
to rank individually and required to provide statements about
why they ranked items as they did. The group will continue the
exercise for several days and are required to come to a class
consensus. Active learning in the computer conferencing environment
can be measured by the level of participation. The computer medium
lends itself well to a variety of courses and is particularly
useful in management, writing, education and other theory intense
courses. Courses involving the use of spread sheets are also
taught over computer. While it can be an aid in decision making,
the asynchronous nature of the medium tends to lengthen the time
frame before the decision is made.
Transmission costs for computer conferencing
can be transferred to students as they dial into the computer.
Toll free numbers are usually provided for instructors. Students
pay for their own modem connect time which amounts to about 1.5
to 2 hours per week. Since they are not working in real time,
their connect time is limited to logging onto the system to capture
material to their own computer disk. Once they capture the material,
they log off the system and prepare their homework and discussion
comments at their leisure to send later.
from "The Distance
Learning Technology Resource Guide," by Carla Lane