Raising the Bar for Extended Education
Margaret Gordon, dean of the College of Extended Education (CEE) and Joanne Zitelli, associate dean, CEE, presented “Beyond Online - Innovative Design and Format in Electronically Delivered Programs - Integrating Technologies for Targeted Audiences” at the University Continuing Education Association’s (UCEA) Western Regional Conference in Salt Lake City last September. Their talk focused on the combination of Webcast and television technology to present courses in the CSU Dominguez Hills applied studies bachelor’s completion program.
“We think this is the way that distance learning technology is going to go,” says Gordon. “People love distance learning because it’s convenient. It has a lot of good features, but it’s very impersonal, so they like face-to-face classes for the more personal aspect of learning. Hybrid classes are partially live and partially online, so we’re replicating the advantages of a hybrid course, but completely through online technology, by combining video, the Web, and live voices, so that you get the whole package.”
By using Avacaster, a content delivery system (avacast.com), courses are offered simultaneously online and through a televison broadcast. This provides students the benefits of Webcast learning, such as viewing classes and archived material at their convenience. In addition, the television broadcast allows a live face-to-face perspective similar to attending a class in person.
“What is really fascinating about teaching this way is that it imitates the way that students today want to experience classes,” notes Gordon. “We have students who have the program on television, but they also have it running on the Web. They can actually chat with each other during the live broadcast and ask questions by pushing a button that sends a question directly to the instructor.”
CEE conducts eight courses per semester using Avacaster, including OLLIonline, a senior learning program, and the Young Scholars Program, which offers college courses to high school juniors and seniors for the nominal fee of $3.50 per class. Gordon surmises that younger students are more likely to use what she and Zitelli call “fused technologies” to learn. However, she acknowledges that students of all ages are taking advantage of Internet learning due to inexpensive access to faster online connections like broadband and DSL.
“The students themselves keep raising the bar,” says Gordon. “Their learning methods are always changing, because of the exposure they have to various technologies, and we have to be able to address their needs. Everybody learns in a different way, and by combining modalities, students can adapt what is specifically their style.”
- Joanie Harmon-Whetmore