Courses delivered via distance delivery and multimedia technologies are becoming more common throughout educational arenas. Specifically, the use of Interactive Television, or ITV, makes it possible to link two or more electronic classrooms located in different sites within a building, a campus, or hundreds of miles apart. ITV creates one classroom environment from multiple sites, and enables campuses to bring courses, instructors, and educational experiences into those sites that would not be possible any other way. The use of ITV, multimedia, satellite broadcasting, and other technology-based mediums opens up a multitude of educational opportunities for learners. There are a few small ways in which interactive television classes are different from the classroom situations to which you may be most accustomed. This booklet will give you a handful of guidelines that will make your electronic classroom experience more productive and pleasurable.
Use of interactive television, ITV, for classes, makes it possible for students on other campuses to take courses not available on their home campuses. It also makes it possible to access specialized instructors and information, bringing that information directly to the campus. Through ITV linkages, students can now acquire most or all necessary courses in a designated program area for a particula certification or degree without leaving their community and campus site. ITV classrooms can increase these educational options by incorporating satellite receive technology, media resource linkages, and multimedia computer technology into the classroom. These technologies further enhance the learner options by connecting students not only to local, regional, and state resources, but also to national and international resources.
In addition to using ITV and related distance delivery technologies for educational uses, ITV networks are often used for conferences and meetings. Through this use, participants can save precious time required by traveling to meeting sites. Associated expenses related to such travel are also eliminated. Clearly, ITV provides for economic and time efficiencies.
When you walk into an ITV classroom, you will see cameras, television monitors and microphones located around the room. Your room may also be equipped with one or more computers, a telephone, a VCR unit, a regular or electronic white board, and a FAX machine. You may notice a teacher module at the front of the room that contains various electronic buttons, equipment, and cameras. You might notice slots for receiving mail and sending mail located on walls, or on tables. Some rooms vary in the number of television monitors they have, but the basic set-up will be similar.
Your instructor and campus Technical Communicator will provide an orientation for you to help you become comfortable with the technology in the ITV classroom. Make sure you ask them questions if you don’t understand all of the equipment and the way it is used. Once you become comfortable with the room set up and equipment, you need to remember a few pointers:
These systems usually have only two television monitors in the classroom. One monitor features the origination (teaching) site, and the other monitor presents the receive sites. If there is more than one receive site, the site that will appear on the monitor is the last site a student talked from. This system is “voice activated” which means that when someone speaks at a receive site, the video picture references that site and puts it onto the monitor. Students at all sites must be careful to not interfere with other sounds or interruptions while someone is speaking over this system. If an audio sound is louder at another site while someone is speaking, the picture will reference that site and put that site onto the viewing monitor.
The remaining network systems use full motion video/audio signals. These systems are called “analog” systems or “uncompressed digital” systems or related reference terms. There is no delay in the video or the audio systems. All motion and audio occurs in a “real time” format, just like your television reception in your home. These systems have enough channel space to dedicate a full channel to each ITV classroom in the system. If there are more than two receive sites, all sites have their own channel designation and all sites can be seen at the same time. Rather than have more than four monitors in an ITV classroom (the recommended standard for ITV classroom sites), monitor screens are split into two, three, or four segments to feature all the receive sites if more than four sites are involved.
If the network is a digital network, you may also see text running on the screen. Digital technology enables instructors to work with text/data, as well as video and audio transmissions. This technology is fairly new to campuses, so it will take a while for instructors to understand the extent to which it can be used in their classroom presentations.
You may be asked to help the instructor by collecting assignments at your site. Assignments, tests, and other materials that need to be sent to the instructor at another site should be given to the instructor, the Technical Communicator, or some other designated person. That person will mail the assignments to the instructor. Your help will be appreciated.
You may be asked to hand out tests to students on the day of the test. You may also be asked to collect the tests. If asked, you must carry out these tasks in full view of the camera so that the origination (teaching) site instructor can view your actions at all times. All students you deliver materials or tests to must also be in full view of the camera. Do not hand materials/tests out to any student who is not in view of the camera and the instructor.
Due to the nature of ITV and the fact there are at least two sites involved, you should label all your work as to your site, course title, instructor’s name, date, and your name. This gives you a better chance of getting credit for your work and getting your work back. As an extra precaution against lost assignments in the mail, you should have an extra copy of your assignments and papers on hand.
If you are absent for an exam in a scheduled ITV class, you may arrange for an exam make-up in accordance with procedures established by your instructor at the beginning of the semester. Procedures for make-up work and exams may be included in your class syllabus. Some instructors may have a proctor available for exams and others will rely on your honesty. Sit within full view of the camera and do not be surprised if a site monitor stops in to check on the class during test times.
If you need to have a discussion with your ITV instructor, you may not be able to stay after class to confer with the instructor. If your discussion need has to do with individual grading decisions, approval for a topic for your paper, or other individual matters you may not want to discuss these issues in the ITV classroom where the open audio system could pick up parts of your one-to-one discussion with your instructor. It is best to make arrangements with your instructor for a discussion at another time. Usually the hours and method of communication with the instructor are published in the course syllabus. The instructor may also have made arrangements for communicating via email and Internet chat rooms or list serves. Your instructor may also be willing to be paged, or he/she may have a cell phone number, a telephone number, and voice mail messaging services to provide you access to him/her. You may also want to give your email address to your instructor. Whatever the case, try to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you.
Your instructor may ask how things are going in relation to your general distance learning experience or specifically regarding a certain issue or problem. Don’t be shy! Providing feedback and input will improve your experience and make the path for future students easier.
The Central Minnesota Distance Learning Network Board of Directors has established recommended procedures for closure of ITV classes due to emergencies and inclement weather. If you are unable to attend class at your ITV site due to bad weather or school closing, please contact the course instructor and the ITV Network Operations Center at 320-255-1515. If classes are still being held at the St. Cloud campus, the ITV Network Operations Center can notify the instructor of outstate school closings.
For information on SCSU campus closings due to inclement weather in St. Cloud, please listen to WJON 1240 or WCCO 830 for an announcement regarding delayed classes or campus closings.
Other campuses may not follow the same schedule as SCSU and from time to time your campus may be closed when SCSU classes are open. In this event, IF POSSIBLE, YOU SHOULD PLAN TO ATTEND CLASS ON THE SCSU CAMPUS. Planning in advance to attend class on the SCSU campus will prevent frustration for you and your instructor. At the start of your ITV course, you should verify the campus schedule where you are attending classes, identify any dates when your campus is closed and make arrangements with your instructor to attend on the SCSU campus for that course date.
Please see the Distance Learning Resource Packet prepared for you by Learning Resources and Technology Services. There are a large variety of library and research materials available through your computer and the Internet.