Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Fully Activating Interactive TV: Creating a Blended Family

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Fully Activating Interactive TV: Creating a Blended Family

Article excerpt

Our campus in Duluth has had interactive TV (ITV) for about a year and a half. It has been a blessing and a challenge. We have been able to receive courses from the Twin Cities Campus and to broadcast courses to the cities on the Iron Range north of us. But, so far, we have been doing the basics, trying to get the "feel" and pushing out on the horizon only tentatively.

It is no wonder that the spaceship on "Star Trek" was called the Enterprise. It takes courage to leave the galaxy of the familiar, to venture into the unknown. It is time for instructors with interactive TV capacity to be enterprising: to risk leaving Lecture Land and create new ways to fully utilize the capacity of the medium for interactivity, to imagine what it is like to be a student at a remote site.

Teaching well under customary circumstances is demanding. Now, with the extraordinary nature of two-way ITV, instructors have been busy learning to use the control panel, figuring out the logistics of registration and the exchange of materials, wondering how to keep students' attention for three hours, and worrying about how to cover their content in the already inadequate time allotted.

Some acknowledge that their classroom teaching is too teacher-centered. They want to involve their students, make their classrooms more interactive, get students to talk to each other. But now the task is even more daunting with this ITV "thing." The spirit is willing; the flesh, weak; the clock, ticking. The problem is identified, but solutions are elusive.

* How to Engage "TV" Students

How can instructors of interactive televised courses make their classes fully interactive? That was the very question we asked ourselves in February when we (the coauthors of this article) looked inquiringly at an ITV sociology course (Law and Society) for juniors and seniors to be taught in three-hour blocks during spring quarter.

The instructor had experienced ITV teaching for two previous quarters; the instructional development consultant had been intermittently involved with planning the instructional design of ITV classes for a little better than a year.

We both knew of the need to create new ways to fully use the medium's capacity. We both knew that whatever we did would have to be as time-conserving as possible. We knew that while much has been written about interactivity, not much had been written about interactivity, site to site. Finally, we knew we'd have a greater chance of success if we worked toward a very specific, tangible goal: designing this Law and Society course in such a way that students at both sites would be involved, integrated, included, incorporated.

In true classroom-research mode,(1) if some or all of the experiment were productive, our second goal was to share the techniques with others in similar circumstances.

The techniques we tried are founded in cooperative learning(2) and based on several assumptions:

1) Engaging in active learning expedites students' developmental growth from authority dependence to critical-thinking independence. Comprised of more than listening, active learning can be defined as "involving students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing."(3)

2) Means should serve the end. The process should enhance the educational product. But no sacrifice in learning should be made simply to accommodate the means.

3)Student learning involves both affective and cognitive domains.

4) Learning increases in relation to the responsibility students are given and assume.

5) Instructors need to be open-minded and imaginative in designing for interactivity. While sociology courses lend themselves quite naturally to transformation to interactivity, so do courses in the hard sciences. Groups also work in mathematics, in physics and in engineering, for instance.

6) If TV transmission fails during class, learning can still proceed if students are accustomed to using alternative methods such as phones and fax to create or share their group products. …

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