the virtual classroom for the real student by lindash


									                                 NADE SELECTED CONFERENCE PAPERS, VOLUME 7, 2001

                The Virtual Classroom for the Real Student

                                      Larry Powell · Jeff Gutliph


Bringing the classroom to the student assists many non-traditional students today. Our CD Rom
based, WEB based, and computer lab based instruction methods involve traditional text
explanations, interactive examples and projects, and integrated video lectures; moreover, we
have produced the materials in house, using inexpensive technologies tied to no particular
textbooks or publishers. This article will show how we have implemented these methods
concluding with observations about improving student success rates in Learning Support and
collegiate level classes via distance learning.

        Today’s non-traditional student                        replacing the traditional classroom in the
needs more than the traditional classroom to                   following ways:
obtain an education. Many students today                               1. The Global Interconnected
must hold down full-time jobs or manage                                Network, a.k.a. WEB (or Internet)
households in addition to carrying a full-                                     (a) The classroom goes to the
time schedule at college. Since scheduling                                         student’s home.         With
classes around careers is never easy, today’s                                      appropriate techniques,
students seek alternative ways to obtain a                                         we can present projects
college education while achieving success in                                       and labs to the students in
a career or in running a household. If we                                          an interactive format.
fail to meet these students’ needs, we will                                    (b) Prerecorded lectures
lose the students to other institutions who                                    stream into students’ homes.
are more flexible; therefore, we must                                          Students may save and view
demonstrate the flexibility to retain these                                    the lectures at their leisure.
students. It only follows that providing                                       (c) Students may interact
options to make enrolling in or remaining at                                   with the instructor and with
our college more attractive becomes a high                                     other students in real-time
priority.                                                                      using chat rooms.
        Simply put, many students may no                                        (d) E-mail and bulletin
longer exclusively attend traditionally                                        boards provide additional on-
scheduled classes. We must, then, change                                       line interaction.
the picture of a commuting student driving                             2. Computer Assisted Instruction
to class every day. At our college, we have                            delivered via the WEB or CD
succeeded in supplementing and even                                            (a) Students participate in
                                                                               live lectures in a computer

                                 NADE SELECTED CONFERENCE PAPERS, VOLUME 7, 2001

              equipped classroom that                                           traditional        text       based
              features one computer per                                         material.)
              student, a projector, a smart
              board, and access to the WEB                             The advantages of changing the
              or CDs.                                          traditional classroom environment are
              (b) The computer scores on-                      numerous. We may replace some or all
              line projects and tests,                         classroom meetings for students.         For
              offering students immediate                      example, a class may meet once per week,
              feedback and access to                           work on the WEB once per week, and use a
              solutions.                                       class CD once per week. Thus, students
              (c) Students who must miss                       enjoy flexibility in scheduling while faculty
              class due to responsibilities at                 likewise have flexible schedules. Students
              work or at home may keep up                      learn at their own pace. We are now able to
              via the WEB or CD.                               reach students who otherwise could not
        3. Georgia Statewide Academic and                      attend college or who would have difficulty
        Medical System                                         attending full-time, such as stay-at-home
              (a) The same instructor may                      moms, full-time workers, and student
              reach multiple classrooms.                       athletes. Institutions experience increased
              (b) A single lecture is                          enrollment      and    reduced    scheduling
              broadcast to all connected                       problems. Finally, employers are far more
              locations.                                       willing to accommodate students who must
              (c) The broadcast may be                         miss work once per week, due to classes,
              streamed onto the WEB.                           than students who must miss work three or
              (d)        Lectures         are                  more days per week.
              automatically recorded and                               There are, however, disadvantages to
              saved.                                           distance learning. We have listed some
              (e) Distance learning students                   disadvantages and possible solutions:
              may view lectures at their
              leisure.                                                  1. Testing Problems
              (f) The instructor need not                                       (a) Faculty may require
              repeat identical lectures when                                    students to come to class or
              offering the class again.                                         the professor’s office for
        4. CDs—The Classroom on Disk.                                           tests.
              (a) Bandwidth issues are                                          (b) Remote or out-of-state
              resolved.                                                         students may use libraries or
              (b) Transfer to hard drive for                                    other colleges as test sites.
              even faster performance is                                        (c) Students may take tests
              simple.                                                           using courseware such as
              (c) Physical storage space is                                     WebCT.
              far less than videocassettes                                      (d) Colleges may provide
              (i.e.,   54     videocassettes                                    testing centers with expanded
              averaging 15 minutes each                                         hours.
              will fit on 2 CD’s with                                   2. Faculty-student-class Interaction
              enough space left over for                                        (a) Videos allow students to
              professors      to      include                                   “see” teachers.

                                 NADE SELECTED CONFERENCE PAPERS, VOLUME 7, 2001

                 (b) Chat rooms offer student-                                (a) Colleges may assess a
                 to-student and student-to-                                   technology fee.
                 faculty written dialogue.                                    (b) Students may lease
                 (c) Bulletin boards allow                                    equipment.
                 students to communicate with                                 (c) Students may purchase
                 each other and with the                                      less expensive brands.
                 professor.                                             5. Monies
        3. Technology Problems                                                (a) Faculty may apply for
                 (a) The available bandwidth                                  grants.
                 of most students’ Internet                                   (b) Departmental budgets
                 connections has been a                                       may       support    distance
                 problem in the past and is                                   learning.
                 still somewhat of a problem
                 today. However, with the                           Administrators and students alike are
                 seemingly rapid deployment                    pressuring faculty to provide alternatives to
                 of      DSL      and      cable               the traditional classroom. Many faculty
                 connections,        bandwidth                 members lack the knowledge and training to
                 issues should soon be a                       accomplish this task; moreover, many
                 distant memory.                               institutions have limited access to the
                 (b) Colleges’ infrastructures                 resources necessary to bring classes online.
                 can be upgraded to support                    We have shown that relatively inexpensive
                 the demands of streaming                      ways do exist for faculty who desire
                 content.                                      alternative methods of instruction. Best of
        4. Lack of on-campus computing                         all, these methods do not necessarily involve
        facilities                                             pure “on-line” courses.

   For further information please contact Larry Powell · Georgia Perimeter College · 5155 Sugarloaf
Parkway · Lawrenceville, GA 30043 · Phone (770) 995-6901 ·


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