DE Technology

VideoconferencingTelevised educational programming through satellite, microwave, videotape, or compressed video has become a matter-of-course. Video-based instruction is "utilized in some form at every level of the educational spectrum, with the most extensive use in education" (US Copyright Office). These technologies have created an interactive classroom that more closely resembles the face-to-face classroom experience. There are numerous ways for a remote site to procure a video signal:
  • Satellite: A television signal is uplinked, amplified by a satellite in geostationary orbit, and then downlinked back to Earth. The signal can only be viewed if the receiving satellite dish is programmed with the specific transmission coordinates for that particular signal. This type of transmission is a one-way delivery system in which the site of origin transmits to a remote site. Satellites are commonly use in education, the private sector, and in business (Telg).
  • Compressed Video: Compressed video, or videoconferencing, is a live, two-way interactive electronic means of communication. Two or more people located in various geographic locations can partake in "face-to-face" audio and visual exchanges (Digital Bridges). Video is delivered through a regular phone line. Picture quality in videoconferencing is compromised due to the compression of the signal. Specialized equipment is needed at each remote site in order to participate in this type of DE activity (Telg).
  • Videotape: The instructional video market is huge. Educational programs are copied onto VHS format and marketed to schools, business, or the private sector.
  • Cable Television: Local cable companies often provide community access television channels to the city. Some of these channels are used strictly for educational purposes and provide free access to any potential student in the viewing area (Telg).
    Using the Internet for delivery of educational instruction is a fairly recent phenomenon. The potential of the Internet to deliver on-line learning opportunities is a major trend in post-secondary education (Telg). It is estimated that 55% of four-year institutions have made off-site learning opportunities available. Currently, over 1 million students are enrolled in on-line distance education courses. The Internet differs from other communication technologies because it is comprised of numerous information spaces; these information spaces change the degree of interactivity and the visual display of information (Digital Bridges). The most well known of the information spaces is the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW provides users with consistent and convenient means to access the infinite resources of the Internet (Engineering Outreach). Other spaces on the Internet that present educational opportunities for on-line distance education courses are:
  • Electronic mail (e-mail)
  • Search Engines
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Newsgroups
  • Discussion and chat groups
  • File sharing via FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
Distance learners can access any or all of these spaces, or elements, through an interface, which enables the user to navigate through the on-line material (Telg).
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