School's out

日期:2018-02-08 05:29:19 作者:印掠宅 阅读:

By Jonathan Knight in San Francisco LEARNING by video conference can be just as effective as attending classes. Researchers in California’s Silicon Valley have compared the exam performance of students who met face-to-face with others who interacted only by video conference. There were no differences between the two groups’ final grades. A growing number of universities offer courses to students who live too far away to attend classes on campus. Videotaped lectures are broadcast or mailed, and students can take tests over the Internet. But this “distributed” learning has raised concerns that students miss out on the benefits of classroom discussion. James Gibbons of SERA Learning Technologies in Palo Alto and Bert Sutherland of Sun Microsystems in Mountain View now say that video conferencing provides a solution. Before he founded SERA, Gibbons pioneered a teaching method known as tutored video instruction (TVI) at Stanford University. In TVI, several students watch a videotape of a lecture together. Their tutor stops the tape frequently and encourages discussion among the students, who may also interrupt the tape with questions. Research has shown that TVI students outscore those who attend the lecture and study on their own. Gibbons, Sutherland and their colleagues have devised a video conference version of TVI. Each participant can see the face of everyone else involved on a monitor divided into three rows of three. The recorded lecture, which the tutor controls, appears in the bottom right window. “We wanted it to be as much like a real TVI session as possible,” says Rob Pannoni of SERA, who worked on the project. Some 900 undergraduates taking five different courses at two Californian universities took part in a trial of the system. Half attended lectures, while the other half took part in TVI sessions or their video conference equivalent. While the average grade of the lecture students was 2.8 out of a possible 4, the TVI and the video conference students both averaged 3.1. A number of universities have already expressed interest in the video conference system, perhaps using cable or satellite television connections. But that would require each student to join the conference from a small studio dedicated to the purpose. For the system to take off, it will probably have to work over the Net. The problem is that Internet connections can’t handle the volume of data needed for nine simultaneous video channels. “The Internet is not now capable of doing what we did,” Gibbons says. But the researchers are confident that these problems can be solved. Then anyone with a computer and a digital camera could take part from home. “This is a plausible way in the near future to pick up a class,” says Randy Smith,