Teaching Electronics Via Satellite

Article excerpt

Nebraska was the first state to purchase a dedicated multiplechannel transponder for educational use. This technology makes broadcast possible worldwide. Earlier this year, for example, a preparatory class for the Certified Electronics Technician exam (CET) aired over NEB-SAT (Nebraska Satellite). From the first class in January to the final exam in April, electronics technicians across North America were tuned into Satellite Spacenet 3, Channel 4. For three hours every Wednesday night, interested students could brush up on their skills in order to pass the Associate Certified Electronics Technician examination.

The course originated at MidPlains Community College in North Platte, Nebraska. Ten students participated at the North Platte campus. Other registered students were from Hawaii, Florida, Saskatchewan, Washington, Alabama, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Delaware and Utah. Each site was a classroom with an administrator or teacher to facilitate each session. Facilitators basically operated equipment and administered the final test. Hundreds of people may have watched the course, but not taken it for credit. Thus, it was impossible to determine the total number of participants.

Being able to secure a prime time slot on the satellite was an advantage for the success of the course. Mid-Plains was able to secure a 7:30 p.m. central time slot.

Some distance learning challenges

Mid-Plains electronics instructors Gordon Koch and Dick Stephens agreed to conduct this course in addition to teaching their regular on-campus classes. Although it was their first distance learning class, they approached this challenge with enthusiasm.

One of the first things they learned was the need for supplemental hands-on materials. Instructors were able to develop these materials with graphics software programs. The materials were mailed to the students about a week before each class session. They included study aids and handouts used for problemsolving, following diagrams and taking notes.

Instructors soon relaxed and adjusted to the new classroom situation. They found that they had to keep things moving because this type of satellite class did not allow for the interaction of an on-campus class. …