Academic journal article College Student Journal

Teaching through Tele-Conferencing: Some Curriculum Challenges

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Teaching through Tele-Conferencing: Some Curriculum Challenges

Article excerpt

The article explores the intricate experience of using a two way interactive television as a means of instruction aimed at achieving some specific curriculum goals. Some Advantages and Challenges of using this medium are discussed for the benefit of first time users. The paper argues in favor of using teleconferencing as a way of promoting distance learning for the purpose of extending scarce educational resources to people in rural areas.

Introduction

As educators explore new ways of making education available to the growing number of learners across the country, the two-way interactive television has received considerable attention. While a few skeptics have dismissed the medium as another technological gimmick, some educators (Sample, 1995) have viewed it as a viable option for distance learning, especially to learners in rural areas where educational resources are scarce (Batey & Cowell, 1986). In some cases, the argument is that the cost benefit does not justify the huge financial resources required to set up the equipment and provide the manpower needed to keep it running.

Following are some ways that both instructors and students can benefit from the use of tele-conferencing as an instructional medium for achieving specific curriculum goals. The success or failure in the use of interactive television as a means of instruction depends largely on the effectiveness of the instructor, the amount of interaction between instructor and students, between students and students, how focused instruction is on the subject matter and a host of other factors (Abrahamson, 1995). Practicing use of the medium will enable its users to overcome the fear of technology that tends to interfere with effective instructional design and delivery. The Kentucky Tele-linking Network (KTLN) shall provide the context for our discussion. Before preceding, four questions are pertinent: (1) What is a two-way interactive television? (2) How effective is tele-conferencing as an instructional medium? (3) What must first time users know about it? (4) And in what ways can curriculum goals be achieved through interactive television? A two-way interactive television is basically an electronic technology through which pictures and sound could be transmitted as digital signals over high speed or "T-1" lines which have the capacity of twenty-four normal telephone lines across the country or the world. Thus, people separated by thousands of miles could see and hear each other. Because it may take a couple of seconds for the "compressed" video objects to be transmitted, anyone asking a question at one end must wait a few seconds for the signal to arrive at the location. Tele-conferencing is made possible when people in separate location, across campus or across the country, can carry on a conversation by means of interactive television, thus making it possible for them to see and hear each other. This technological feat has been made possible by the development of fiber optics, (strands of glass or plastic "wire") used for the transmission of digital data (video and audio) from one end to another through interactive television and computers (DLT, Mn Sat. 1996, Kollof, et al 1996).

As information technology continues to impact our lives, state boards of education have been challenged to utilize its tools to rapidly expand the spread of education as the world of business has done. While a good number of us are cautious, others have dreamed that the classroom teacher would soon be displaced by electronic gadgets. At least, so they thought when radio, television, reading machines and computers came along. Educators learned their lesson in the 1980's when some people thought that computer based training (CBT) would do the trick (sample, 1995).

What is generally unclear to those who advocate a wholesale adoption of CBT and the like, is that the medium is not the message. To have a means of delivery cannot be a replacement for what is to be delivered. …

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