Now that the basic course planning and development steps have been completed, you are almost ready to enter the distance education teleclassroom. This section covers a few pointers that will help you to be successful.
Encouraging and Facilitating Interaction
One of the greatest adjustments required in televised instruction is overcoming the elements that hinder normal classroom interaction. Student-teacher interaction may be hampered by participants' unfamiliarity with the technology, your decreased ability to receive nonverbal cues from students, and the limited opportunity for office visits or after-class discussions. A high level of classroom interaction is critical to ensure distance learners' continued motivation and attention. Such interaction also helps you evaluate whether the information being presented is being received and interpreted as you intend. Although the points covered in this section facilitate interaction in any instructional setting, they are critical to a successful distance education environment.
Becoming Confident With the Technology
Successful classroom interaction begins with your knowledge of the interactive capabilities of the delivery system you will be using. Your confident and seamless use of these technologies will encourage student confidence in return. Before your first televised class, take time to familiarize yourself with the cameras, microphones, and control panels in your classroom. Your local instructional technology support staff will be glad to give you a personalized orientation to the classroom in which you will be teaching and provide opportunities for you to practice off-line.
If you've never seen a teleclassroom, take this tour.
Take a tour of a
state-of the-art two-way interactive teleclassrom (9:25)
Click here for a text version.
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Establish Office Hours
Specify the hours when remote-site students may call you, and be sure to be available during those hours. Use e-mail or voice mail to eliminate missed calls.
Take Care of Details
Be organized and prepared. Don't ignore the increased logistics required to send out assignments and resource material, to return homework, and to facilitate test-taking. Although individuals may be available to help you with these tasks, students will appreciate the personal concern and effort you invest to make sure that the material is properly disseminated and collected.
Without all of your students physically sitting in front of you, it becomes more difficult to assess if your message is being received and understood. Compensate by incorporating feedback opportunities into your lesson plans. Short writing assignments or asking students to respond orally to a prepared question will allow you to assess how well the content is being understood. A spontaneous question can also maintain attention and supply immediate feedback. Take time to ask questions like, "Cynthia, in
Use Technology to Facilitate Interaction
Several technologies are available to you that can be useful in overcoming distance. If you are teaching on a two-way video network or Internet protocol (IP) (computer) videoconference, the classroom fax machine can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you may wish to have students respond briefly in writing to a question posed in class. The remote-site students could fax their responses to your classroom so you would have immediate feedback. Some instructors allow students to the use the fax machine to ask anonymous questions. And, of course, the fax machine can be used to send last-minute material to remote-sites. Remote site students can use the classroom phones and fax machines to interact with each other during group discussion periods.
The Internet can be a highly effective means of facilitating interaction outside of class, not only between the students and you but also among the students themselves. Course assignments can be designed to require discussion among the students via electronic mail, a mailing list, or a newsgroup. By using videoconferencing and the Internet, you create a hybrid delivery model taking advantage of the strengths or advantages of both technologies. Below is an example of how a two-way videoconference works.
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