Distance Ed Technologies

What Distance Education Students are Saying About Their Classes... "ITV has been a big help for me and my education. I have taken several of these classes and I feel comfortable with it. They are a little weird at first and sometimes I miss the face to face interaction with the teacher, but overall, I think they are very much needed. I would not be where I am today, graduating in December 2003, if I had not been able to take these ITV classes." - Northeast Texas Community College student
What Technologies Are Used In Distance Education?

You can expect to encounter the following kinds of technologies in distance education courses:

These advanced technologies offer you the opportunity to take courses you would not normally be able to take. They also provide you with a more flexible learning environment, presenting you with the opportunity for more input than is found in many traditional classrooms. Distance education courses introduce you to the diversity of college life by providing you with the opportunity to interact with students at other remote sites who have different points of view. In an ITV class, you will be using television equipment such as cameras, microphones, monitors and VCRs. It is very likely that you will also be working with computers. You may need to learn new computer applications like WebCT or Blackboard for Internet courses, and you’ll definitely need to be comfortable surfing the Net and using email.

What is Interactive Videoconferencing (ITV)?

An instructor will teach the class from the “host” or “local” site, and students will be at “remote” sites. Students can see and hear everything the instructor does and says - and, the instructor can see and hear everything students do and say. ITV students may be part of a "class" that is going on in three or four different cities or towns simultaneously. ITV rooms may contain television and document cameras, monitors, microphones, videocassette recorders, telephones, facsimile machines and computers. The primary advantage of an ITV course is that the level of student-to-teacher and student-to-student interaction is as close to face-to-face instruction as it gets. Students see and hear, and are seen and heard, by the instructor and fellow classmates at remote sites in real time.

Will I be asked to participate a lot?

ITV isn’t like educational television; you can’t just sit in front of the TV and “watch” the class. The key to a successful ITV course is interaction. You must get (and stay) involved to fully benefit from the activities. This means that you must:

Is there anything special about an ITV classroom?

The equipment in the room—cameras, microphones, TV monitors—and the number of remote sites that connect to the videoconference all contribute to the unique atmosphere of the ITV classroom. Along with this new environment come new rules of classroom behavior, called ITV etiquette:

Will I have to know how to operate the ITV system?

In all probability, no. Most sites will have a local facilitator who takes care of setting up the room and technical troubleshooting. You may be required to use the equipment to give a presentation or to participate in an activity. If this is the case, your instructor or facilitator will show you what you need to know.

Are ITV courses videotaped?

Instructors may videotape their classes as a back-up in case of technical difficulties or for students who miss class due to excused absences. Most instructors will not allow students to consistently miss class and simply watch the taped copies.

Will students be on camera?

In an ITV course you will be on camera several times during each class. You may feel a little uncomfortable the first few times you see and hear yourself as others do. But don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to it—remember, everyone else feels the same way! You may be asked to sign a release form allowing yourself to be videotaped.

ITV Etiquette Tips to Enhance Your Distance Learning Course:

What Distance Education Students are Saying About Their Classes...

"Distance education courses have been a lifesaver for me. If it weren't for distance ed. courses, I could not have taken many of the courses offered. I would definitely choose distance ed. courses as opposed to driving any day. There are few problems with the technology; however, it still beats driving. It is a convenient way to get a good, quality education." - Northeast Texas Community College student

ITV Pros and Cons:

Interactive videoconferencing is often called the “next best thing to being there.” However, one key difference between a traditional classroom and an ITV course is the amount of instructor contact. Because the computers controlling the videoconference will end the session at the scheduled end of class time, students will not be able to stay after class to speak privately with the instructor. For questions about grading decisions, approval for a paper topic, or other individual matters, contact the instructor outside of class.

What is an Internet Class?

First of all, the terms “Internet” and “Online” are often used interchangeably to describe a course in which all of the course content and class communication is provided over the Internet. When taking an Internet course, you complete your coursework using a computer that has an Internet connection. You may participate from an Internet classroom where the instructor provides information, instructions and assignments. Online courses may or may not be self-paced instruction. You will need to “attend” or check in to your online classroom regularly. In some classes, attendance is defined as regular participation in certain online activities (chat rooms, bulletin boards, e-mail).

Depending on the instructor's policy, you may receive a failing grade if your absences or lack of activity exceed the limits. Some classes may require you to mail in course assignments, or to take a proctored exam. NOTE: Some courses may require the use of additional specific software. Contact the instructor or college representative for details about a specific course.

Taking an Internet class offers many advantages:

Drawbacks to Internet courses

Internet courses require participants to take a much more active role in the learning process. The nature of the courses means that you must be prepared to take on greater responsibility than students enrolled in traditional classes. You will need self-discipline to stay actively involved with the course, and may find that you spend an even greater amount of time reading and preparing for this course than you do for a traditional course. Also, since you may not see the instructor face-to-face, you will need to communicate with him or her regularly through e-mail, fax, or telephone.

The successful Internet student must:

What are WebCT and Blackboard?

They are software systems that allow your instructor to organize online course content and manage assignments, quizzes, and grades. The sooner you become comfortable with the commands and features, the more you will enjoy the class. Your instructor will provide you with information on how to access and navigate the system.

What is a Chat Room?

A chat room allows individuals to type and view messages in real-time (as opposed to viewing messages at a later time in e-mail or on a bulletin board). If more than a few users are chatting at the same time, messages tend to scroll by very rapidly. For this reason, chat rooms are best used for general discussions requiring spontaneous responses.

What is an Online Bulletin Board or Discussion Group?

A online bulletin board/discussion group allows users to post messages to which other users can respond at any time. Bulletin boards normally thread the discussions (organize them by topic). Unlike chat rooms, bulletin boards do not require an immediate response, allowing for more thoughtful answers.

What is a Telecourse?

Telecourses include videotaped programs, textbook readings, assignments, examinations, and other requirements specified by the instructor. If you take a telecourse, you may be required to attend an initial on-campus orientation session with the instructor and/or participate in other group meetings during the semester.