How To Succeed At Distance Education

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					How To Succeed At
Distance Education
But at what cost?

Richard Anderson, UW
Jay Beavers, MSR
   Professional Master’s Course taught
    by University of Washington
   Graduate Computer Science, targeted
    at continuing adult education
   ~50% students from Microsoft
   Lecturers drawn from both University
    of Washington and Microsoft Research
In 2002…
   First deployment of ConferenceXP into the
   Last year, this lecture was “How To Fail At
    Distance Education”
       Network Failures
       Production Quality (Lighting, Microphones,
        Camera Placement)
       Overly Structured Presentations
       Classroom Logistics

       Short Technical Interruptions had Big Impact
In 2003…
   Applied resources to the problem
       Improved classroom equipment (>$75k)
           Better Audio & Video Equipment (plasma screens,
            Gentner XAPs)
           Better room logistics (lighting, layout)
           Direct control over both classrooms
       More people at University of Washington

   Improved software
       Classroom Presenter with Tablet PCs
       Windows Media Gateway for async playback
       Updated to ConferenceXP RP 2.3
   10 of 11 classes had 100% two way
       The other class was a disaster on the
        receiving end

    I regret to report that the quality of the video feed
    from MS was extremely poor. In fact, it was non-
    existent for 85% or more of the lecture (as in no
    video whatsoever - just a voice from
    above). When it was available at all, Phil appeared
    in a postage stamp size window complete w/
    frequent psychedelic blurring effects.
“Overall, I think that ConferenceXP was a significant improvement
    over the previous approach with PictureTel™, NetMeeting™,
    and dialup teleconferencing. The audio and video quality is
    much better and the inking capability is great. I like it
    because it keeps me focused on the slides, helps me relate
    what I'm saying to what's written on the slide, and it's a real

“Despite the much-improved audio and video, there wasn't much
    Q&A with students at the remote site… I have no emotional
    connection to the students at the remote site. In the live
    classroom, I can see student's expressions. The image of the
    remote site is much too coarse-grained to even recognize
    individuals, much less to tell how they're reacting.”

“A few students who started out attending the live classroom told
     me that they eventually reverted to watching over the web,
     either live or at a later time. One said that he thought the
     viewing quality was at least as good as at UW.”
Near Futures
   Networking Diagnostics, Reporting, and Failover

   Remote Administration
       Remote control of classroom settings
           Windows Server 2003
           Gentner & Camera capabilities
       Receive side A/V adjustment

   Improve the video quality
       640x480 native resolution instead of 320x240
       Plasma displays instead of projectors

   802.11a wireless networking in the classroom
   Student Tablets with note taking

   New Capabilities
       Assessment, feedback, simulations

   Investigating integration with other research
       Intelligent Camera Management System
Tips and Tricks
   ClearOne XAP

   Plasma Screens versus Projectors

   802.11a
Longer Term Directions
   Increase the interaction
       More collaborative activities in the classroom
   Operator-less Technology Classrooms
       Automated startup & shutdown
       Centralized, single point of support (outside of
   Less expensive Camera & Microphone
       1024x768 $50 “webcams” with digital zoom &
       Fewer, smarter microphones with beam forming
        & location tracking

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