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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Providing Distance Learning with New Tools for the VT/WFU Biomedical Engineering and Science School

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Presenters: Cheryl Peed, Coordinator of Instructional and Research Services, and Glenda Scales, Associate Dean for Distance Learning and Computing, Emit Boone, Assistant Director, Instructional Technology, Virginia Tech

The three speakers shared their design and development process for the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences blended program designed by Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The following summarizes their process.

Project Vision

  • Offer a joint degree
  • Create an interactive learning environment for the faculty and students
  • Implement state-of-the-art instructional tools

Some of the challenges they faced

  • Creating a “one classroom” environment where the students in the classroom and the distance learners felt like they were in a shared environment
  • Bridge geographical distances
  • Selecting the appropriate technological structure
  • Honoring the administrative policies and procedures of both universities
  • Managing differing session times and course durations
  • Renovating classrooms to support multimedia tools and interactive video conferencing

Faculty Support Considerations

  • Providing joint training and technical support
  • Providing opportunities for individualized support and instructional consulting
  • Understanding different teaching and learning styles

Technology Goals

  • Seamless networking structure
  • Common distance learning equipment across both campuses

Instructional Technologies Utilized

  • Centra used to emulate the classroom environment by providing on demand audio/video playback
  • The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning provides Faculty and students with software tutorials  
  • Manual procedures for generating student accounts had to be implemented on one of the campus because the universities used different learning management systems
  • All online course in this program are cross listed
  • Students register for their courses at their home institution
  • Hardware: Document Cameras, Wacom Tablets, Streaming server

Lessons Learned

  • Team Interaction
  • There needs to be early involvement for all stakeholder areas
  • Must be University level commitment from each school
  • All impacted campus departments must be involved in the design process from the onset
  • Open lines of communication must be maintained: regular meetings, face-to-face meetings on both campus to clear up misunderstandings
  • Early identification and resolution of potential barriers
  • Classroom visits to determine what environmental issues may cause barriers to learning
  • Room lighting, layout, colors
  • Equipment noise
  • Etc.
  • Technical
    • Need to implement standard operating procedures
    • Technical documentation
    • Coordination of software and security across institutions
  • Providing support personal and systems
    • Tech support attend the fist few sessions of each class and monitor the remaining sessions remotely
    • Conduct faculty and student orientations to acclimate them to the technology
  • Assessment
    • Early design of performance measures
    • Evaluate technology utilization and material quality after each course
    • Provide opportunities for faculty feedback

    Next Steps

    • Incorporate new tools into the infrastructure (i.e., Breeze)
    • Implement the seamless automation of administrative procedures
    • Increase the use of rich media for medical images
    • Implement proactive faculty styles database
    • Eliminate firewall issues
    • Transition primarily face-to-face teaching and learning culture towards online model
    • Investigate virtual reality for teaching and learning

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    This entry was posted on October 20, 2005 by in Educause2005.

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