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Technological Advances In Distance Education Mitigate Short Term Instructor Absence From The Classroom

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.401.1 - 2.401.8

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Herbert Hess

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1675

Technological Advances in Distance Education Mitigate Short-Term Instructor Absence from the Classroom

Herbert L. Hess Department of Electrical Engineering University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho

Abstract Recent advances in communications technology such as FAX, videocameras and accessories, and videoconference give an instructor freedom to teach class from remote sites effectively. Common low-tech methods such as canceling, postponing, or substituting are briefly discussed. Three possible alternatives employing different sorts of communications technology are presented: videoconferencing, combining videotape with interactive audioconference, and combining FAX with audioconference. Discussion includes advantages, difficulties, costs, and surveyed student reaction. This investigation does not explicitly consider Internet adaptation of its methods.

Introduction For professional reasons, an instructor may be absent from class. The occasion may be a conference, to present a paper or to attend professional meetings. Short courses during the semester present opportunities to meet with colleagues in industry and to maintain proficiency in the latest methods. Fundraising time often seems to occur in mid-semester. Even such necessary obligations as military reserve duty and jury duty seriously disrupt continuity in the classroom. Classroom attendance becomes even more of a problem when an instructor is the only one available for advanced courses in certain disciplines. Face-to-face interaction has an important place in education not yet effectively supplanted. If lectures or books were adequate alone, then there would be no need for a resident campus. A good library would put the faculty out of business. Interaction with instructors and peers in discussions, formal and informal, lectures, seminars, demonstrations, and a host of other opportunities enhance the effectiveness of learning. The interaction and opportunity to ask questions, to encounter new opinions, and to gain wisdom are of great importance. The value of human interaction is a reason that distance education by Internet is more complex and difficult a problem than some of its proponents would lead educators to believe.1 To mitigate their own occasional absence, instructors have employed several low-tech methods. Among the more popular are canceling the class, postponing the class, or hiring a substitute instructor. With the recent advances in communication technology, a wider range of options opens. A creative instructor may now take advantage of a greater range of professional opportunities outside the classroom while disrupting the classroom schedule less than was the case in the past. This paper presents field-tested options to combine technologies to maintain the personal touch, not replace it.

Low Tech Methods Traditional low-tech methods for addressing short-term instructor absence include canceling the class, postponing the class, and employing a substitute instructor. Canceling the

Hess, H. (1997, June), Technological Advances In Distance Education Mitigate Short Term Instructor Absence From The Classroom Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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