June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.958.1 - 11.958.11
Next Generation Technologies for Distance Learning and Computing “Same Time Any Time Any Where”
Abstract: A variety of socio-economic and technological factors are converging to create an increased demand for distance education. This increasing demand is in turn fueling a change in the ways and methods of knowledge dispersion. Now, more than any other time in history, educational institutions are turning to non traditional and more technological methodologies to reach a wider audience. In this direction, we believe that videoconferencing over the Internet combined with streaming web access to educational courses is the ideal combination to meet the escalating demands for access to educational programs ``same time, any time and any where''. In this paper we discuss the transformation from a traditional to a distance education model that is occurring here at the College of Engineering in Virginia Tech. We will specifically explain how synchronous systems like videoconferencing over the Internet (especially video over IP) are being put to use in an attempt to minimize costs while extending the range and reach of educators.
I. Introduction Distance learning has been around for the last 75 years or more. Since the early 1930's distance learning has seen phenomenal growth both in the number of people opting for a distance learning based initiative as against a traditional classroom and in the technology used. Till about the late 1980's and up to an early part of the 1990's, television was a pre-dominant medium for distance learning. However, with the advent of the internet and multimedia technologies, television has been replaced by Video and Web Conferencing as the medium of choice. Several universities and educational institutions have been offering engineering programs to off-campus students for many years. These programs have typically been concentrated in metropolitan areas with a large number of engineering corporations and/or military installations. However, current technologies and demographics present new challenges and opportunities in reaching engineers who work for small companies which are often located in small towns.
The benefits of using distance learning cannot be emphasized more. Probably the single most significant and obvious benefit of participating in distance learning initiative is the opportunity to take courses without having to physically travel to the instructor's location. This allows a person to conveniently keep their current job while taking a course. With the technology available today, this is possible even if the student lives across the country from the school, in a very small town, or remote location. In addition, because many distance learning students have families, being able to work on a degree without moving can have significant social and economic benefits as well.
Distance learning provides students with unique opportunities to pick courses in their interest area, which are presented by instructors of their choice. Depending on the program rules and guidelines, they may be able to complete a customized degree using credits from several universities. Such access to variety and particular topics of interest can be of particular benefit to students interested in updating skills and broadening their knowledge base.
Patcha, A., & Scales, G. (2006, June), Next Generation Technologies For Distance Learning: "Same Time, Anytime, Anywhere" Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/121
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