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Enhancing Online Teaching Techniques

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Enhancing Online Teaching Techniques Powered By Docstoc
					              Engaging Students in the Online
              Environment through Multimedia
                                         Dr. Beverly Block, Professor
                    Department Head; Marketing, Business Education, and Information Systems
                                      School of Business Administration
                                                 417.625.9603
                                             Block-b@mssu.edu

                                       Dr. Janet Buzzard, Associate Professor
                                        School of Business Administration
                                                   417.625.9582
                                               Buzzard-b@mssu.edu

                                                   Betty L. Baker
                                  Blackboard Administrator, Centra Administrator
                                 Instructional Technologist/Internet-Based Courses
                                                 Lifelong Learning
                                                   417.625.9888
                                                Baker-b@mssu.edu


                                         Missouri Southern State University
                                             3950 East Newman Road
                                                 Joplin, MO 64801


                                                      Abstract

Enhancing online courses requires a very different approach from that of a traditional course. This paper
will explore the many multimedia opportunities available in an online environment.



Distance Education is a term used to describe any educational attempt where the instructor and student are separated
by a physical distance. Typically, Distance Education is a label applied to education classes that a student takes from
home or any location other than the campus offering the program. Whereas traditional students come to the campus
for classes, distance learners have information sent out to them in one form or another. There are several types of
delivery methods used in Distance Education, such as videoconferencing, prerecorded television packages,
teleconferencing, computer conferencing, satellite transmission, and mail correspondence courses.

Some distance delivery methods have been around for some time. However, one of the newest types of distance
programs is offered via the Internet and is designed to be accessible to the learner "anytime, anywhere." Online
education is accessible 24/7 and from any remote location as long as computer and Internet access are available. The
term “Distance Education” often may be interchanged with "e-learning," "online education," and "online courses.”

Offering Distance Education allows institutions to address changing student demographics, a globalizing economy,
and industry requirements for new skill sets. To meet the challenges of educating students in today’s environment,
institutions are improving their modes of operation. In addition to providing alternatives to traditional students,
institutions are providing flexible degrees and lifelong learning programs for non-traditional students. Institutions
are also providing services and a sense of community for students who work fulltime.




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Distance Education Enrollment is Increasing

Nationally, online enrollment increased from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004, according to Growing by
Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005. This study also found that the overall percent of schools
identifying online education as a critical long-term strategy grew from 49 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in 2005. The
online enrollment growth rate is more than ten times that projected by the National Center for Education Statistics
for the general postsecondary student population. Newman (2003) recognizes that the rapid expansion of online
course offerings has been due in large part to advances in technology and to organizations dedicated to supporting
online instruction.

Student demand and a flexibility advantage are two major reasons for the growth of higher education distance
learning programs. The majority of students enrolled in courses at postsecondary institutions are employed adults
living off campus. Working adults are the fastest growing demographic group in higher education. They appreciate
the flexibility offered by online learning, so that they can better balance their work, family, and educational
commitments (Gallagher, 2002).

Every indication points to more and more institutions of higher learning increasing their online offerings which
leads to more and more students taking online courses and participating in “e-learning.”

Distance Education Requires Changes to the Traditional Classroom

This newer teaching/learning opportunity of Distance Education is changing the traditional method of education.
Online education is the first distance learning format that comes close to engaging the student in a learning
experience comparable to the traditional classroom experience (Gallagher, 2002). The ability to engage students,
however, is not automatic with online courses. Careful course design and a command of the technology are required
(Perrault, 2004).

Glenn (2003) notes that designing an online course requires a very different approach to course development from
that of a traditional course. Interactive components must be developed to introduce content, engage students, and
provide assessment information. Educators electing to design and/or deliver online courses face several challenges.
Strategies and techniques that worked successfully in the traditional classroom may not be appropriate for an online
course. Course preparation time for online courses is considerable and the learning curve for the instructor is
daunting, since both new technologies and new teaching techniques must be mastered. To foster learning, online
courses should provide students with choices and incorporate multiple learning methods such as audio, graphics,
video, and text.

When getting started in Distance Education, Romkema (2003) encourages educators to incorporate online learning
into their traditional classes. This hybrid approach offers part of the curriculum through online learning. According
to Stidham and Frieden (2002), the hybrid method is an excellent way for an educator to move gradually from
traditional to online learning delivery. It also provides both educators and students an opportunity to experience
online learning in a controlled, short-term setting.

Another suggestion when designing an online course is for instructors to start with a course that they have already
taught perhaps even several times. However, the instructor should not expect that putting course notes on the Web
will do the job. It is much more than that. An integral part of the design is engaging the students. To accomplish this,
online instructors have to embrace the technology and the tools available to enhance their courses.

Online learning environments continue to evolve with changes in technology. This new environment requires many
resources, technical support, a clear instructional/learning framework, and should support both novices and experts.

Missouri Southern State University Offers Distance Education

Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), located in Joplin, Missouri, is a state-supported, comprehensive
university offering programs leading to the bachelor’s degree and to selective collaborative master’s degrees.
Current enrollment is approximately 5,000. MSSU was one of the first post-secondary institutions in the state of


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Missouri to offer online courses and to offer entire degrees online. At this time, Missouri Southern offers bachelor’s
degrees in Business Administration, Criminal Justice Administration, and General Studies. Core curriculum
requirements for all degrees are available through online courses. The Division of Lifelong Learning administers
Distance Education at MSSU.

The enrollment in online courses at Missouri Southern State University is steadily increasing just as nation-wide
numbers are on the rise. In the fall of 2002, MSSU offered 74 Internet courses. In the spring of 2006, 132 Internet
courses were offered. In the fall of 2002, 508 distance-only students were enrolled at Missouri Southern; in the
spring of 2006, the number rose to 827. The total number of seats in Internet classes in the fall of 2002 was 2,182; in
the spring of 2006, the number accelerated to 3,801, which is approximately a 74 percent increase in less than four
years All indications show that online courses, distance-only students, and the total number of seats in Internet
classes at Missouri Southern State University will continue to rise.

MSSU is fortunate to have resources and technical support to assist both beginners and experts for Distance
Education. One full-time person at Missouri Southern has the title of: Blackboard Administrator, Centra
Administrator, and Instructional Technologist for Internet-Based Courses. She along with other support staff
provides assistance to MSSU faculty. Below are the some of the tools used at Missouri Southern to deliver and
enhance Distance Education.

Course Management Software

To deliver online courses, course management software is highly recommended. Blackboard is a Web-based server
software that provides industry-leading course management, an open architecture for customization and
interoperability, and a scalable design that allows integration with student information systems and authentication
protocols (Yaskin & Gilfus, 2002). Blackboard is a useful tool to enhance students’ learning experiences, and it
provides a central location to supply information, distribute materials, and communicate.

Blackboard includes several features, some of which are: the ability to post Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint
presentations, PDF files, images, links to streaming media, and other files; an adaptive release feature that allows
instructors to customize what content each student views and when; the ability to email from within Blackboard so
instructors can communicate with all students at once or select students; a discussion board, where students can
respond to questions; a live chat room; an area for group projects, where students can exchange files, use a
discussion board, use a chat room, and e-mail each other; an online test manager that allows instructors to build an
assessment with many different question types and then administer the assessment; automatic assessment grading
and posting to an online gradebook; and the ability to accept students' assignments online and track them in an
online gradebook.

More product and company information can be found on the Web at http://www.blackboard.com.

Software to Enhance Distance Education

In addition to making online courses available and/or enhancing the traditional classroom with course management
software, other techniques, methods, software, etc. are necessary to make the learning experience comparable to the
traditional classroom experience. At Missouri Southern State University, these include:

CENTRA: E-conferencing Collaboration Software. CENTRA is a synchronous e-conferencing tool with two way
audio, whiteboard for drawing or slide presentation, and many other meeting tools.

CENTRA allows instructors to Take Lectures to Students from their computer. The software can also allow users
to…
     enhance courses with synchronous presentations and discussions. Voice over IP allows instructors and
      students to freely communicate using a PC and microphone.
     deliver an audio lecture, complete with PowerPoint slides, graphics, or White Board writing.
     interact with students through question/answer or even let one of them lead the show.




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        share applications to really demonstrate or troubleshoot a process. Application sharing provides live
         interaction with any application on the computer (or even one of the student’s computers). Participants do
         not need to have the shared application installed on their computer.
        have Web Safaris, show Web sites and control where students go and what they see.
        conduct surveys.
        use quizzes for content checkpoints.
        display video to see who is doing the talking. Instructors can also play video files as part of the lecture (the
         appropriate player must be installed on all participants’ computers).
        record all sessions for playback by those who could not attend or for refresher to those who did.

More product and company information can be found on the Web at
http://www.saba.com/products/centra/index.htm.


Camtasia Studio: Screen Recording Software. Camtasia is a screen recording software. Camtasia provides “show
and tell.” The software can capture anything done on a computer (including mouse clicks and cursor movement) to
demonstrate the where, what, and why. It allows instructors to connect with their audience by recording, editing, and
sharing realistic video tutorials, software demonstrations, and presentations.

Camtasia allows full-motion capture of on-screen content, (recorded in real time) along with voice, captioning, and
Web camera video, allowing instructors to produce professional-quality interactive video presentations with small
file sizes to post on the Internet, burn on CD-ROM, or deliver any way instructors choose, in all the popular file
formats. The interface and simple record button allow educators to focus on what they want to record, instead of
having to focus on the recording device itself. As a result, instructors can rapidly record and produce training,
demonstration, and tutorial videos.

In addition, Camtasia Studio’s PowerPoint add-in allows users to record everything in PowerPoint presentations,
including all audio, animations, and transitions, with a single click. Instructors can then edit and share the video in
all the popular file formats. As a result, anyone can watch the video file and feel as if they actually attended the
presentation in real life.

More product and company information can be found on the Web at http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.asp.

SnagIt: Image Capture Software. SnagIt lets users grab pictures to enhance meaning and comprehension of
documentation. SnagIt is screen capture and editing software. It is the all-in-one tool that lets instructors add
stunning effects and helpful instructions to anything seen on the PC screen. Users can then drop the captured
material in documents, presentations, Web sites, or anywhere else it is needed. SnagIt allows users to grab anything
from the computer screen with a single click. It provides a convenient and efficient tool to capture, edit, and share
content from the computer.

With SnagIt, there’s nothing that can’t be documented, presented, or demonstrated. As a result, people can close
the communication gap. Instead of typing a lengthy email, people can explain complicated concepts with an
annotated screenshot. SnagIt can capture graphs, Web pages and images and annotate for reports, presentations,
and emails.

SnagIt’s built-in image editor allows users to clarify points by adding textual explanations, arrows, and highlights
right on top of images. There is no need to buy an additional editor.

Other product and company information can be found on the Web at http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.asp.

Impatica: PowerPoint Compression and Streaming Software. PowerPoint files can be very large and difficult to
download and view, especially those with lots of animation and voice annotations. Impatica makes PowerPoint
presentations easily manageable and accessible.




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Impatica for PowerPoint is a software tool that allows Microsoft PowerPoint presentations to be played over the
Internet at modem speeds as low as 28.8 kbps. Impatica for PowerPoint reads and interprets the PowerPoint file and
produces a compressed file that preserves the various multimedia elements, such as: text, graphic, audio, video,
animation, and interactivity. Once the impaticized version of the presentation has been created, it can be played from
any HTML Web page or from within an email message. No special server side software is required. Impatica for
PowerPoint can also be used to generate a zip file containing the impaticized presentation, HTML file, and player
.jar file. This zip file can then be used to easily upload content to a course management system such as Blackboard.

Other product and company information can be found on the Web at http://www.impatica.com/imp4ppt/index.html.

Media Encoder: Voice Recording Software. Audio files are a great, simple way to provide guidance, introductions,
and important information to students in a more personable way than through plain text alone. It also helps when
trying to reach auditory inclined students. Microsoft Windows Media Encoder is a versatile screen capture, audio,
video encoding software from Microsoft. WME captures a window or specified rectangle of the screen, with audio,
and produces a compact Windows Media WMV file that can be progressively downloaded and viewed in Windows
Media Player. Though it has several features, Missouri Southern creates audio files as the main purpose for this
software, since it can be very easily done with Media Encoder, using only a microphone and allowing capture in real
time with a compressed format for streaming.

Other product and company information can be found on the Web at
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx.

SoftChalk Lesson Builder. SoftChalk Lesson Builder turns documentation into easily accessible Web pages. With
LessonBuilder, instructors can create professional-looking, interactive content without knowing any HTML or
programming. Users can spend time developing content, not learning how to use complex software. It is easy to
insert annotated graphics (like those created using SnagIt) and add activities such as customizable flashcards,
matching games and word searches, and quick-response questions that are self-correcting. With LessonBuilder,
instructors can use built-in style sheets; they can choose the color palette, the style decoration, and more. Within
minutes, LessonBuilder will generate a set of integrated lesson pages with built-in navigation and a professionally
designed layout.

LessonBuilder automatically packages lessons for delivery via Internet, Intranet, or CD-ROM or to integrate with
CMS (Course Management System) such as Blackboard and standard zip formats. Lesson packaging ensures that
content can be easily shared with colleagues and that content can be easily used in a variety of e-learning delivery
systems.

Other product and company information can be found on the Web at http://www.softchalk.com/lb_learn.html.

Respondus - Software to Streamline Uploading Tests. Respondus allows instructors to get test questions into course
management software without the tedium of typing or cutting and pasting one question at a time into the test or pool
manager. Getting test questions into Blackboard can be a time consuming and tedious task. However, Respondus
provides a way to take existing test questions (from user’s own files or publisher test banks) that are in or can be
extracted to a word processing document, create a text file using special formatting characteristics, and then upload
them all at once into a quiz or test pool in the course site. Respondus lets users upload test questions; download test
questions; create printable test documents; and extract question or survey statistics.

Other product and company information can be found on the Web at
http://www.respondus.com/products/respondus.shtml

Summary

Distance Education is a term used to describe any educational attempt where the instructor and student are separated
by a physical distance. One of the newest types of distance programs is offered via the Internet and is designed to be
accessible to the learner "anytime, anywhere." Offering Distance Education allows institutions to address changing
student demographics, a globalizing economy, and industry requirements for new skill sets.




                                                                                                                       5
Nationally, online enrollment increased from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004, and every indication
points to more and more institutions of higher learning increasing their online offerings which leads to more and
more students taking online courses and participating in “e-learning.”

Distance Education is changing the traditional method of education. Online education is the first distance learning
format that comes close to engaging the student in a learning experience comparable to the traditional classroom
experience (Gallagher, 2002). Glenn (2003) notes that designing an online course requires a very different approach
to course development from that of a traditional course. Interactive components must be developed to introduce
content, engage students, and provide assessment information.

To deliver online courses, course management software is highly recommended. Blackboard is a Web-based server
software that provides industry-leading course management, an open architecture for customization and
interoperability, and a scalable design that allows integration with student information systems and authentication
protocols (Yaskin & Gilfus, 2002).

Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), located in Joplin, Missouri, is a state-supported, comprehensive
university, and was one of the first post-secondary institutions in the state of Missouri to offer online courses and to
offer entire degrees online. In addition to making online courses available and/or enhancing the traditional
classroom with course management software, other techniques, methods, software, etc. are necessary to make the
learning experience comparable to the traditional classroom experience. At Missouri Southern State University,
these include: CENTRA: E-conferencing Collaboration Software, Camtasia Studio: Screen Recording Software,
SnagIt: Image Capture Software, Impatica: PowerPoint Compression and Streaming Software, Media Encoder:
Voice Recording Software, SoftChalk Lesson Builder, and Respondus - Software to Streamline Uploading Tests.

With Distance Education numbers on the rise, it is imperative that schools, including faculty and administrators, get
on board. In education, we always need to put our students and their needs first. We need to make their educational
experience a valuable one. Offering Distance Education is one way to respond to the changing demographic of
today’s students. When just starting to offer Distance Education, it will take time and will require adjustments for all
concerned. However, just as we as educators have strived in the past to enhance the classroom setting, we now have
to do the same for the online setting. We need to become familiar with all the possible enhancements to the online
environment and use what we think appropriate to make sure our students receive a good education and gain a
competitive edge.




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                                                    References

Gallagher, S. (2002). Distance learning at the tipping point. Retrieved November 12, 2002, from:
http://www.eduventures.com/research/industry_research_resources/distancelearning.cfm.

Glenn, J. (2003). E-learning e-volution: Your (digital) future awaits. Business Education Forum. 57(4), 8-14.

Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005. Retrieved August 1, 2006, from:
http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/survey05.asp.

Newman, A. (2003). Industry Focus. The Education Economy. Vendors evolve product and service offerings to
support the development of virtual learning. Retrieved on August 20, 2003, from: http://www.eduventures.com.

Perrault, H. (2004). Online course development for business education. E-World: Virtual learning, collaborative
environments, and future technologies (Yearbook No. 42, pp. 1-12). Reston, VA: National Business Education
Association.

Romkema, P. (2003). The case for creating a hybrid international business course. Business Education Forum,
57(4), 10-14.

Stidham, S. and Frieden, B. (2002). 10 easy steps to online success. Business Education Forum, 57(2), 47-49.

Yaskin, D. and Gilfus, S. (2002). Blackboard 5: Introducing the 5 learning system. Retrieved July 31, 2003, from:
http://Blackboard.com.




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