Multi- University Collaboration via Distance Learning To Train Rural Special Education Teachers and Related Services Personnel
A distance-learning personnel-preparation course on transdisciplinary services for students with low incidence disabilities was developed through collaboration among four Kentucky institutions of higher learning. The course, "Transdisciplinary Services to Students with Deafblindness and Other Multiple Disabilities," was delivered to eight Kentucky locations using compressed video (two-way audio and two-way visual). This technology was chosen because it provided for direct student interaction, eliminated the need for specialists to travel to deliver lectures, and promoted class activities such as discussion. The course was viewed by 60 students enrolled in the University of Kentucky, Morehead State University, Breschia College, and the University of Louisville. In a postcourse evaluation, the overall rating was in the upper quartile. The advantages of the course were that Kentucky students had equal access to the same best-practice information, and the regional exchange of experience and dialogue provided all students with information needed to implement the concepts anywhere in the state. While technology and diversity were crucial contributors to the course's value, they were also at the heart of the challenges encountered. Recommendations to address these challenges include development by collaborating faculty of a common philosophy of instruction that includes appropriate interactive instructional activities and an understanding of the student body; guidance for students on use of the technology and rules related to mutual respect and on-line interaction; guidelines related to student on-line time that assure equal access yet effectively manage class time; and ongoing evaluation to continually adjust content and presentation.