Tests of the Validity of Perceptions about Interactive Television Courses among Faculty Members and Students
Benet, Suzeanne B., Levenburg, Nancy M., Journal of Private Enterprise
In the 1990's many institutions have begun offering programs and courses delivered via distance learning technologies, particularly for returning adult learners who are time- and location-bound, desiring to advance their education and career opportunities yet constrained by job and family responsibilities. One popular form of distance learning is interactive television, a technology that connects two or more classrooms with two-way audio and two-way video. Many faculty members, however, have expressed reluctance to become involved in distance education. Since they are instrumental in this educational process, a study was conducted in which the perceptions of four distinct groups were explored regrading various aspects of the distance learning experience via ITV; students who have and have not taken an ITV course, and faculty/administrators who have and have not taught an ITV course.
The results of this descriptive study, conducted during the Fall 1997 semester at a regional university, indicate that there are highly significant differences between what students think they will experience in an ITV course and the report from students who have taken such courses. In general, students anticipate a less effective class due to technological limitations. However, this was not the experience of students enrolled in ITV courses. Interestingly, in spite of the lack of problems related to technology, both faculty and students who have had experience with ITV-delivered courses still prefer face-to-face sections. As expressed by both groups, these preferences do not seem to be the result of technology-related issues. Instead, it appears that factors other than those related to the technology itself impact overall satisfaction levels and teaching/learning preferences. This is important to those who provide distance educational offerings since the success of distance learning programs and courses may well hinge on faculty members' and students' attitudes and perceptions. According to responses, teachers who have not used interactive television are most concerned about start-up issues and basic knowledge about the "nuts and bolts" of designing and managing distance education courses. Among faculty who had taught at least one interactive television course, the area of greatest concern was lack of personal contact, followed by the potential negative impact of technology on class discussions and course managementrelated issues.
A large number of faculty respondents also expressed concern about receiving appropriate training prior to teaching their distance education course. Consequently, one of the most important findings from this study is the potential impact that provision of appropriate training experiences may have on faculty attitudes towards teaching ITV courses. …