Volume 5 Issue 5 October/November 2001
Case Study: San Diego Community College District
The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) needed a way to make the transition from classroom instruction to online instruction for teachers who would help to build a new virtual university. Tegrity offered a cost-effective solution that could be shared among multiple instructors and enable them to create media-rich online content, without having to alter their natural style of teaching.
- Recording method makes best qualities of professors available to online students
- Portable studio enables online instruction to be produced at a fraction of the cost of other alternatives
- Minimal tech support or production assistance required
Building an Online Degree Program
The district has experimented with online learning, and many faculty have already produced supplemental online courses using WebCT, a web-based course management system. But the district is now ready to centralize its efforts and launch a complete online university, offering full degrees to off-campus students. One of the challenges to making this initiative a reality is the need for instructors to make the transition from traditional classroom teaching to online teaching.
Ric Matthews, who is a Biology Professor, Technology Trainer for the SDCCD, and Regional Trainer for the California Virtual Campus consortium, explains that in addition to text-based information being organized inside WebCT, they now wanted to provide a standard method for capturing natural classroom teaching and converting it to an online format. To add audio and video to their WebCT courses would require a flexible hardware/software platform, bandwidth-efficient media, and tools that any instructor could use. Most existing media production tools required extensive expertise and effort that faculty are not trained for.
Tegrity WebLearner Eases the Online Transition for Teachers
The WebLearner Studio is an integrated solution that can be rolled into any classroom or training room environment with an ordinary whiteboard. At the core of the system is Tegritys WebLearner software which turns a PC, projector, cameras and microphone into an easy-to-use audio/video recording device. A single instructor with minimal training can operate it, with no video crew or tech support required.
When SDCCD looked within their ranks for products and services that were already successful with their faculty, they paid careful attention to the Tegrity WebLearner Platform already being used by Professor Gin Gee in the Biology department at San Diego Miramar College. He has been teaching Biology for over 20 years, and currently has approximately 250 students each semester who use his website for a regular on-campus biology course, online biology course and an Honors biology course. His three courses were developed using WebCT template design, and all learning activities were consolidated in one page for efficient access.
He began using Tegrity WebLearner in 2000 and has been producing self-contained audio/video lecture presentations as a method for delivering the core information for each course. He put considerable effort and preparation into the PowerPoints that served as the bases for the each recording, but the recording process itself was fairly simple. Gee chose to use an assistant to make the process go even faster for him. He has taken advantage of Tegritys flexible distribution options, and offers both web access and CD-ROMs for students to view at their convenience and pace. Students use the modules because they believe test questions will likely come from what instructor emphasized in the modules. They can even view them simply as PowerPoint slides for quick review before examinations.
Over 90 Percent of Online Students Agree That WebLearner Makes an Impact in Their Learning
Student feedback has been very positive. A survey of 132 students revealed that over 90% found the Tegrity presentations helpful or very helpful for each lesson. Over 80% found them clear and easy to use, and they were most valuable in preparation for exams, as well as watching before lectures and as a substitute for reading the textbook. Most students averaged at least three hours a week in using the presentations during study time.
Many of Gees students are English-as-a-second-language learners, and the ability to see and hear the recorded lectures repeatedly is critical to their understanding of the material.
Gee also claims that using WebLearner has increased efficiency for both students and instructor, as it provides a tool to streamline and organize presentations for students who can access the information anytime and anywhere. Ordinarily it takes 1 to 1.5 hours to do a chapter presentation. With Tegrity WebLearner, the concepts and topics are organized and condensed ahead of time in PowerPoint. Without any student interruptions, a traditional lecture can be reduced to 20 to 30 minutes, which is a benefit for busy working students who take online courses. According to Gee, Any online course can be greatly enriched with the Tegrity WebLearner system, for it is the closest thing to real live presentations on the Internet. Gee adds, They also like the presentations because they are shorter than regular classroom lectures and focused on the topic with vivid illustrations in PowerPoint format.
Advantages of Extending WebCT Courses Using WebLearner
SDCCD has standardized on WebCT, and courses will be constructed with uniform structure and delivery methods. Once the student learns how to navigate in one course, he or she gains proficiency in others. While Gee believes all-the-same text-format sites can be boring, he thinks the additional ability to create virtual lectures with WebLearner adds a huge variance of creativity. The virtual lectures are generally short (10-20 minutes) concise and focused on key concepts. The graphics, diagrams, and charts in virtual lecture are simple and clear. For multicultural students, Gee pronounces clearly and slowly, and his voice is automatically synchronized by WebLearner with the written script on the slides. Making links inside WebCT to WebLearner modules (learning objects) from his online courses works the same way as linking to websites, documents or other resources for students. It is a simple URL link inserted in the text.
15-20 minutes is wasted in typical one hour classroom lecture for taking attendance, handing out papers, students coming in late, cellular phones ringing, interruptions, questions and students leaving 10 minutes before the hour for their next class, says Gee. A well-prepared short virtual presentation holds students attention, minimizes fatigue, and can be viewed anytime. After watching, students can immediately ask questions via email/discussion bulletin. The instructor can also tie the modules to activities, measurable assessments and learning resources external to the course to promote challenge, critical thinking and global interactions.
According to Ric Matthews, SDCCD is pushing to make an online presence by offering students a full degree in an online college. To accomplish this goal, they are centralizing efforts in a coordinated fashion. The district has just brought on a new Dean for Online Programs, Judy Baker, to lead the project, along with an additional instructional designer. They have settled on WebCT as a standard for the learning management environment. Choosing the WebLearner platform as an essential component for content creation was a straightforward decision. Its not the only tool they will use, but it is the only one that enables them to move from innovator use to more mainstream use. It is the best solution for faculty who need assistance to get from whiteboard style teaching to online teaching. And since many already have developed skills with PowerPoint, learning to use WebLearner is a short leap for most of them, even those who were previously resistant to technology.
The college has been designated by the San Diego Community College District to offer online degree programs. As such, many more online courses will be developed. More instructors will continue to use the technology and they plan to widen the scope of WebLearner use as the demand increases. They have just purchased a third WebLearner Studio that will be shared for all campuses. Matthews predicts that faculty demand will increase as they see results being created by their colleagues. The Math and Nursing departments are already getting started. Even SDCCDs instructional designers plan to make use of WebLearners screen recorder capability to teach faculty how to use software applications. In addition, students today are putting more pressure on their teachers to provide multimedia to accommodate multiple learning styles and modalities.
For more information about Tegrity products and services, call Tegrity at (800) 411-0579 or visit the Tegrity Higher Education website at www.tegrity.com/pte.html. Email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ric Matthews can be reached at email@example.com.
Dr. Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org