Tag Archives: Course Delivery

Serving All Students: Using IVC for Nontraditional Courses

SIG IVC Showcase: Charice Black, Utah Education Network

Charice described the full length courses they offer and coordinate across the state. You can see their website describing their network and courses here.

Utah Education Network has been operating the state-owned videoconferencing system for over 25 years, currently managing approximately 250 events per day. The classes and training events are broadcast to over 500 IVC sites and thousands of students in every corner of the state. The courses highlighted in this session are operating at the highest standards and with consistent positive feedback and student performance outcomes.

All sites are equipped with the capability to broadcast video and content over two separate channels, allowing for the use of document cameras, video, computer presentations and other media without losing the ability to see and interact with the instructor. Instructors from highlighted courses will share ideas and techniques they use to deliver their content in effective and interesting ways.

We VCed with one of their broadcast sites to hear about what they are doing; we also talked to one of the teachers in a automotive class with an SUV in the auto shop behind him as he talked to us. We also heard little video clips from various teachers across the state who teach on the system, including clips of students in an American Sign Language class. I get the sense that Utah really has the full course method of VCing down pat! They are experts at making it work well! Nicely zoomed in; great best practice use of VC demonstrated.

They usually do their calls at 768 or 1080+ – so they usually do high speeds and high definition – so doing 384K for the conference was “coming down” for them!

It was great to talk to the automotive teacher and hear how he’s teaching and ask him questions!

Transactional Distance in Videoconferencing

This post is part of a series examining articles on the communication aspects of videoconferencing.

Reference Chen, Y. J. (1997). The implications of Moore’s theory of transactional distance in a videoconferencing learning environment. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 9802605)


This study compared Moore’s (1972) theory of transactional distance to the use of videoconferencing for teaching at a distance. The theory is that transactional distance (the distance of understanding and perceptions) has to be overcome by the teachers & learners for effective learning to occur. Moore suggested that lower structure and higher dialogue would yield less transactional distance.

Chen studied 121 participants in twelve videoconferencing classes in several subject areas. Results included that dialogue includes in class verbal communication, face to face interaction outside the class, and communication via email. The structure of the course included the design or organization of the class and also the delivery and implementation. Chen found that Moore’s theory isn’t specific enough in these areas of dialogue and structure.

The students perceived greater learning from greater frequency of in-class discussion. The greater the reported transactional distance between teacher and learners, the less the perceived learning.

Those were the only two factors that made a difference in perceived learning.

The study also found that out of class electronic communication was not supported as an effective practice; however, by the sounds of it, the use wasn’t required and therefore was low. If deliberate, interactive, engaging discussions were set up, would this result be different?

Suggested Strategies for Teaching Via VC

  • Additional training for teachers and students before courses occur
  • Planned class section where all sites meet in person at the beginning of the semester
  • Setting up a listserv for online communication
  • Creating group dynamics and a collaborative learning environment
  • Building consensus between/among sites through interaction among peers


  • It’s interesting how important the in-class discussion was in this study. How do YOU create discussion across sites? Good models are GNG‘s Pulse programs; some of the Jazz interactions; what else?
  • Don’t you think that many other Web 2.0 tools if chosen carefully and used deliberately could be more effective than a listserv? Of course this was published in 1997 which is seriously old in Internet time.
  • What other things do you see as important to a videoconferencing class?

Green = IVC Hybrid

Several presenters from South Central Kansas Education Service Center are doing a session on videoconferencing at TxDLA. Kay Highbarger, Executive Director is doing the presentation.

They have 4 teachers on staff, including one from China who teaches full length Chinese classes as well as short Chinese culture programs.

50 daily classes daily high school over their network

Also special topics – Chinces, Spanish and Careers for middle and high school students.

Audra May, the tech support, has a PVX in her office to do test calls and connect classes.

“windshield time” is getting cut, VC is a solution for staff development. Districts don’t come in any more for training, “we will go to them”.

Early Literacy Discovery Time with Mrs. Goose is a very popular program they offer. She told the story about a class in Texas that sang happy birthday to her in the session. “Texans are just great!” It’s not just us in Michigan that love to connect to Texas!

They are working to show their schools that “are too good” to need distance learning services to help them realize their students can benefit from these full length courses as well.

They have a really cool 3D thing, but all their equipment didn’t come. They have pictures of how they put these 3D objects in both sites and it’s 3D right in the middle of you. It’s hard to visualize and know what they mean without actually seeing it. Can’t find any info on it on their website either.

The sender manipulates the object, but the receiver can’t manipulate it. They can also put the object on the server so all the classes can get it. That’s how Bill Baker described it. He’s at Navigator Development. It’s HD plus 3D. I know I’m not describing it well but linked to what I could find by Googling. It can also work with 3D glasses. Bill’s company creates content for schools as they ask for it – and then you own the content. You could then sell it to other places if you want. There are about 100 of these applications (brain, ATV, etc.) made and they are building them all the time. Another person said that you can import other 3D content – and there are thousands of those too. For example the content on Turbo Squid. They are working towards putting in this $100,000 ish room plus setting up one of their staff to create 3D content. It would be only at the education service center but not at the districts – because they are receiving it.

In addition to doing programming for schools, they reach out to the community, community colleges, higher ed, senior centers, etc.

They are the first service center for their state doing HD – they have Polycom HD carts in their schools and really enjoy it.

Last Notes from NECC

I’m just cleaning off my computer desktop from NECC and a few scribbles here and there.

I lost two video clips due to somehow losing the sound on them. Very frustrating. But I wanted to mention these two poster sessions in case you missed them.

Dissolving Boundaries in Ireland
Nigel Metcalfe, from the National University of Ireland, dissolvingboundaries@nuim.ie, was presenting about their project to connect kids via videoconference from Northern Ireland and Ireland. The students got to know each other and then worked on projects together in all content areas. You can read more about the project at  dissolvingboundaries.org. I was particularly interested in the research (peer reviewed published research!) section. While the organization supports specifically this project, some of the schools are using VC for other activities as well.

Synchronous at a Distance: Bridging the Gap
The other clip I lost was of Shirley Pickle and Leesa Potts sharing about the Arkansas shared classes distance learning program. The state offers programs to meet the needs of high schools that can’t offer those classes on their own. Leesa is one of the teachers and shared some tips for getting kids to know each other early on with introductions, presentations and other strategies. Be sure to check out the website for the Arkansas Distance Learning Center as you’ll find many tips and tools.

Using VC for Homebound Students

Here’s an interesting article published in Feb/March. Did you read it?

A Healthy Education

Videoconferencing allows a Florida boy with an immune system deficiency to attend school for the first time.

Kevin O’Connell is a typical third grader at Spring Hill Elementary. He jumps up from his chair and recites the Pledge of Allegiance with his classmates. He huddles with his small reading group and reads a story when it’s his turn. And when he knows an answer, he raises his hand and patiently waits for his teacher to notice him in the back of the classroom. The only difference is, he’s actually attending class at home.

Take a moment to read it. It’s a pretty cool example of using VC to bring full courses to students.

Lit Review: A Study Of The Factors That Impact Videoconferencing As A Learning Tool Within Three Regional Service Agencies In Michigan

Currie, N. (2007). A Study Of The Factors That Impact Videoconferencing As A Learning Tool Within Three Regional Service Agencies In Michigan. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Oakland University, Rochester, MI.

Author: Neil Currie
Title of dissertation: A Study Of The Factors That Impact Videoconferencing As A Learning Tool Within Three Regional Service Agencies In Michigan
Publication year: 2007
Database source: Not yet in dissertation abstracts. Received chapters four (results) and five (conclusions) via email from the author.
Name of journal: n/a
My Codes: VCImplementation

Main point of the dissertation: This dissertation examined the factors that impact the success of videoconferencing from both the ISD (regional service agency) level, and the school district level, comparing among the three and between the ISD and school district perceptions.

Methods: Mixed methods including a survey and in-depth interviews. Surveys were given to videoconference staff at the educational service agency as well as the superintendents and/or technology directors in the local schools serviced by those agencies.

Research questions examined what affects the success of a regional delivery network: the size of the network’s geography, the socio-economic homogeneity, the key planning elements, and factors involving the availability of programming.

The three ISDs were analyzed separately. Participants rated their perception of the use of VC in their school district as “rarely” “couple times per month” “couple times per week” “used almost daily.” They also predicted whether future use would increase or decrease in the next few years.

In the two smaller ISDs (9 and 7 school systems), videoconferencing was used by 100% of the school districts. In the larger ISD (28 school systems), only 68% had used videoconferencing. In the larger ISD, none of the schools reported using it daily; whereas in the smaller ISDs they reported using it more often (67% daily in ISD B, 100% daily in ISD C).

A chi-square test of significance was used to cross tab the size of the districts in square miles with the answer to the question “Have students within your school system participated in video conferences”. The results 2= 18.707, df=3, p=.000) indicate a significant difference between them. It would be nice to know the effect size. However, this data did not match the survey results, so the researcher recommended that the actual practices be used as a measurement of usage; the need and purpose of VC are more logical reasons than the size of the district, and the network’s geography shouldn’t be used as a predictor in success. I do think this warrants a closer look with actual numbers usage, and a comparison of shared classes to shared classes and curriculum VCs to curriculum VCs. It needs to be done in a way that the purpose/type of VC isn’t a confounding variable.

The amount of money spent per student and the number of students participating in school lunches was used to determine the socio-economic homogeneity of the school system. This was cross tabbed with the same question as above “Have students within your school system participated in video conferences”. There was no significant difference. However in the discussion section, the researcher describes how this data was collected. It was the ISD personnel’s perception of the districts use and the district personnel’s perception of total use. It would be useful to actually compare the socio-economic status with the actual numbers of use – again divided by purpose. I don’t think it’s fair to compare shared classes to short curriculum videoconferences when looking at usage.

Issues that arose in the survey and in depth interviews on the question of key planning elements that are necessary for successful delivery included:

  • lack of a person to facilitate videoconferencing
  • lack of promotion of videoconferencing by administration
  • access to equipment
  • awareness of how to integrate it into lesson plans
  • professional development for all users
  • low picture quality
  • lack of a clear vision or purpose for using this technology
  • teachers lack of time
  • fear of the unknown

It’s interesting that in some of the ISDs, the local districts perception of training offered differs from the ISDs perception of training offered. The districts in the smaller ISDs perceived more training offered to them than the districts in the larger ISD. Hmm. How do we know we’re meeting the perceived needs from an ISD perspective? We should be careful not to make assumptions!

Another interesting finding was that in the larger ISD, the local districts felt that the elementary schools were using videoconferencing more often (42.8%) whereas the ISD personnel felt that the greatest usage was at the high school level. In one of the smaller ISDs, the ISD personnel thought that it was used more in elementary, whereas the schools thought it was used more for high school. In the other ISD, their perceptions matched, that high school was using it more. I wonder if some of this difference in perception is related to the type of videoconferencing – full course delivery at the high school level vs. short curriculum-based programs at the elementary level. The larger ISD had only 10% of the districts using course delivery, whereas the two smaller ISDs had 100% of the local districts involved in course delivery.

A finding that TWICE should think about more is that in the larger ISD, 68% of the local schools said that they did not take advantage of the services offered by TWICE. This was true in one of the smaller ISDs too. In ISD C, the districts were using the TWICE services more often. We suspect that sometimes the word doesn’t get past the ISD down to the districts level, and here we have data from two ISDs that supports this possibility. What might be a solution?

In ISD A, the districts were given videoconferencing equipment but without follow-up or infrastructure in place to ensure it’s success. In most of those schools, the equipment is sitting in the administration buildings gathering dust. This is an important lesson for grant implementations!

The ISD (C) with the highest usage of videoconferencing offered training not just on videoconferencing, but also how to use it in the curriculum and how to integrate it in the curriculum. These sessions were offered via videoconference so that the teachers could receive the training in their school building.

Another important difference with ISD C was that every school building in their service area had videoconferencing in the school. This access obviously is critical to increased use of videoconferencing.

Recommendations include: “having a codec device located in an adminstration building makes it almost impossible for individual schools to utilize this technology.” So of all the places you could put VC in your school, the administration building is the last place you should put it if you intend to use it regularly with students.

“The lack of a local person who can trouble shoot transmission problems and coordinate programming can often lead to districts giving up on using this type of technology.” How many times have I said this! If you want VC to be used, you must have someone local in the same building as the equipment to help people use it. In my experience, it doesn’t matter so much who they are, but if they are trained, supported, and enthusiastic.

77%of the 44 local districts studied, and 100% of the ISDs had videoconferencing as part of their technology plan. The researcher recommends that this “remain a necessary section of all future technology plans.”

In looking at the data on shared classes, the researcher recommended that offering distance learning classes will increase the use of VC, legitimize the technology, and make it easier for others to see how the technology works. It also seemed that starting with foreign languages and AP classes were a good place to start when offering distance learning classes.

A long list of further research is supplied and shows that we have much more work to do in this area.

Questions/thoughts I have still:

  • I want to get the full text and look at the theoretical framework and literature review providing the basis for the study.
  • I’m very intrigued with the educational service agency perspective and feel that my intended research will supplement this work.
  • This research focused on total usage, with some discussion on the difference between VC for shared classes and content providers. However, collaborations weren’t mentioned. This should be considered in future research as well.

Note: I didn’t put page numbers in my references because they aren’t the true page numbers since I only have part of the dissertation. 

Lit Review: It's a Bit Like Star Trek: The effectiveness of video conferencing

Carville, S., & Mitchell, D. R. (2001). It’s a Bit Like Star Trek: The effectiveness of video conferencing. Innovations in Education and Training International, 37(1), 42-49.

Authors: Sheelagh Carville and Denise R Mitchell
Title of article: It’s a Bit Like Star Trek: The effectiveness of video conferencing.
Publication year: 2001
Database source: InformaWorld.
Name of journal: Innovations in Education and Training International
My Codes: VCCourseDelivery

Main point of the article: To find out the effectiveness of VC as a medium to deliver a higher education degree course in early childhood to women new to higher ed and who live in a disadvantaged region.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with the 61 students at both sites, and 5 tutors (teachers). Questionnaires were developed and given to the remote site, the host site, and the tutors.

Participants felt that videoconferencing increased the remote sites level of access to instruction, saved money and time for the college, and provided better feedback and discussion than other distance learning methods might lack.

The novelty appears to have led tothe majority of the students having a positive attitude towards videoconferencing. However, the host site students were relieved they weren’t on the receiving end, and a few of the receiving reported headaches and finding it hard to watch the conference. (This was a 128K ISDN connection.)

Students on the receiving end reported developing different skills to learn in this mode including “listening without really watching”, “careful concentration” and “imagining that the tutor was in front of me in the room.” p. 44

Issues around sound (the receiving site had to come up to a mic to talk), time delay, and picture quality impeded the instructor’s spontaneity and made the lecture “rather stilted.” p. 45. It was difficult for the host site to include the receiving site and sometimes the receiving students felt ignored. It was tiring for the instructor to “mediate between student groups.”

At the end of the course, the receiving site students “got used to it” and were willing to connect again. However the students at the host site said, “It’s great, as long as I am not on the receiving end.” p. 45

The students suggested improvements in audio and video quality, as well as more discussion and visuals shared in the lecture.

p. 46. Interactivity is key, and the placement of microphones and time delay limits the interactivity. In most cases in 2007, these issues are not as much a problem. Do you agree? Questions and answers can work well, but students need to be confident and articulate to ask a question where all ears & eyes are on them with the microphone and camera. Those of us who have become comfortable with videoconferencing need to remember how scary/uncomfortable it is for newbies to be on camera!

p. 46 The instructors became more comfortable with videoconferencing as they engaged with it on a regular basis. They learned new techniques by watching their colleagues instruct. The also had a “willingness to be flexible and a desire to make it work.”

p. 46 Instructors couldn’t be lively and animated. Instead they had to stay fairly still, look directly into the camera, and slow down their speech. I think this is also due to the 128K connection. I’ve seen some wonderfully lively content providers presenting at 384K with great success.

p. 47 “Expectectations of technology itself also have a bearing on the participant’s tolerance of the system in use.” If they don’t have a mental model of how the process works, they are more frustrated with the experience. This is really interesting, and something we need to keep in mind as we introduce teachers to videoconferencing. If we can explain that it’s over the Internet and sometimes some of the picture doesn’t get through, etc. it helps them have a reasonable expectation of the quality. This is another reason I never “tell” about VC without actually connecting somewhere. You have to see it to understand it. I’ve also found that comparing it to digital cable works well. They’ve seen the “blocks” on the screen and understand it.

The researcher explored why the remote students were more content with the videoconference medium than the host students. The remote students had no other access to this course of study, and therefore were appreciative of the opportunity. The facilitator at the remote site also made a significant contribution to the remote students’ experience. It was successful because the students were motivated and the content was relevant and desired.

Cross References: This article was quoted in the Becta research document as follows. No mention was made of the technical challenges.

The audience for courses can be increased by teaching face to face with one group and simultaneously transmitting to a second centre elsewhere (Gilbert 1999; Carville & Mitchell 2000).

Finally, interactivity was a fairly important issue in this article, and the technology seemed to impede some of that due to mic placement and only a 128K ISDN connection. I believe that these issues are resolved in most current 384K IP connections with the newer mics designed for the whole room.