Monday, May 09, 2005

Whatever it's Called, the Outcome isn't Good

The headline on the linked story from the AACSB's Biz Ed is about as misleading as I've seen lately: Distance Learning Disappoints Some. Even if the headline were true, it wouldn't be news. Once I began reading the story, I realized that the disappointment was not with a distance learning class, as I think of distance learning, but with a televised course. Students in a satellite location watched a course unfold 100 miles away, communicating with the instructor via "press-to-talk" microphones. The students who were graced with the in-person presence of the instructor were more satisfied and provided more favorable evaluations of the course than the distant students.

I've taught a course myself in which I appeared in-person before a group of students while simultaneously a second group of students at our downtown campus watched me on a large screen. The results were not good, at least for the group that only saw the digital me projected larger than life. I like to call videoconferencing classes like this an abomination, but that's just me.

There's nothing in the story that tells us about the grades earned by the two groups of students. In my case, the downtown students suffered in terms of grades when compared to the students in the same room with me. Did videoconferencing cause that difference, or was there a self-selection process involved? I don't know. The anecdotal evidence I've heard from other instructors suggests that whatever the reason, it wasn't anything that I did. It seems that the students in the distant location always suffer. Maybe they should be given a tuition discount since it is economics that drives pedagogically shaky classes like these. At least, I've never heard anyone say that students learn more by watching classes on screen.
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1 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Tammy said...

I feel the more interactive the learning experience, the more meaningful learning actually takes place. It would seem logical that "videoconferencint" is so similar to "one-way television and/or communication" where an opportunity for interactivity and engagement is serverly limited.

2:44 PM  

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