Looking at Distance Learning through Both Ends of the Camera
This investigation chronicled the experiences of an instructor and her students as they first experienced a distance course that utilized various technologies. Both the instructor and the students had limited or no experience with e-mail, use of the Internet, or the supporting software. The students were 33 elementary school teachers taking a graduate level science education course at Morehead State University. The challenge was to utilize the technology without reducing course content. Each class had to be well planned and organized, especially since the instructor had students participate in hands-on elementary science activities. There were fewer impromptu discussions and the instructor felt it took longer to do things by distance learning. Students were generally pleased with their experiences, citing such reasons as accessibility of courses previously unavailable, the opportunity to learn new technologies, the opportunity to share and learn from students at different locations, and the feeling of being more actively involved in their own learning. Problems encountered included technology problems, particularly sound quality; time wasted while setting up student presentations; and less teacher contact. The number of students expressing concern about the amount of teacher-student contact declined as the semester progressed. Students who used e-mail to send assignments and correspond with the instructor indicated that they felt they had more interaction and feedback on assignments than in traditional classes.