Teaching Via ITV: Taking Instructional Design to the Next Level

Article excerpt

Today we are witnessing in education major changes in the delivery of courses (distance learning, Internet, WWW, off-campus classes) as well as the in-class media used in more traditional classrooms (computer-delivered presentations, student videotapes, sophisticated transparencies, etc.). The computer and its pervasive entrance into many classrooms (K-12, post-secondary, professional) has created a need for us as teachers to learn a new set of skills and guidelines in creating materials for classroom use, in this case as they apply to one particular delivery medium: two-way interactive television. This article is based on a course taught during Summer 1998 at St. Cloud State University (SCSU). The course "Teaching via ITV" was delivered via the institution's interactive television system to three locations: the SCSU campus; Baudette (in northern Minnesota); and Windom, (in southern Minnesota). There were 9 students in St. Cloud, 1 in Baudette, and 5 in Windom. This course was originally designed as an on-campus hands-on course, but interest was shown by people in southern Minnesota for this course to be offered via ITV; thus, SCSU responded to the request.

Teaching via a two-way interactive television system (ITV) is more than merely pushing the correct equipment buttons, and the training for teachers to use the systems should be more than a 15-minute "push the appropriate buttons" session. Using this instructional medium effectively requires a systematic approach to course design, materials design and development, equipment, delivery, remote site originations, computer interaction with ITV, and computer-delivered presentations. It is also critical that faculty understand the administrative, legal and ethical issues related to teaching via ITV. The summer 1998 SCSU addressed each of these topics, divided into separate "training modules" for ease of organization.

Today, interactive television (ITV) is bringing many changes to teaching methods and materials design and development. ITV is a very expensive technology and often requires an instructor to redesign a course that may have been taught previously in a traditional classroom setting. According to Savage (1995), the instructional methods necessary for teaching on ITV systems are comparable to the regular classrooms, with a few adjustments. This article describes those "few adjustments" that differentiate strategies and equipment used in a traditional classroom and those used in an interactive television classroom. It is the joint responsibility of teachers and administration to ensure the instructor is prepared to use the system effectively.

Teaching via this medium requires course and materials design or adaptation of an existing course and materials to accommodate the format. This article will address only the visual literacy and instructional design guidelines to create materials that can be used effectively with an ITV system. Following the introduction of general guidelines, discussion will center on creation of transparencies, hard-copy materials for the graphics camera, and computer-delivered presentations.

Today's Trends in Distance Learning

"Distance education" may be delivered at the same time to different locations, at different times to the same place, or at different times to different locations. "Current courses taught in the traditional lecture-based format cannot be transported to a distance learning environment without modification ... and must incorporate instructional design features that will enhance distance learning" (Cyrs and Conway 1997). However, the instructor need not be the sole designer of a course offered via ITV, since Oliver points out that the creation of an ITV course should be a team approach (Willis 1994). New skills and expertise are needed to design a course being offered via distance learning, and fortunately many institutions have instructional designers available to assist faculty with the ITV course and materials development. …