The Distance Education (DE) Division of Educational Technology Services (ETS) oversees one-way and two-way video conferencing instructional delivery technologies in support of the university's distance education goals. To that end, two classrooms and several conference rooms have been equipped with the current video conferencing equipment and the use of high-speed digital connections to deliver conferences and courses originating on campus to sites as far away as San Diego, California, Croatia and Korea.
A Control Panel on the instructor's podium operates the equipment in the classrooms. Each classroom has an LCD projector, slide to video projector, sound system, VCR, wireless microphones, computer, document camera, fast network, and Internet access in addition to the two-way video connection. From the control panel the instructor can switch between different video sources for their presentations. There is usually a large screen for audiovisual displays or several large television monitors positioned strategically in the classroom. Conference rooms are equipped with mobile videoconferencing units and peripheral video sources provided upon request.
A variety of technologies and delivery systems combine to produce a videoconference. Technologies with which we are already familiar, such as telephone, video monitor, and camera converge into a powerful tool distributed over multiple delivery systems. There are three delivery system categories - video, audio, and computer. The DE Division's primary focus is on the use of one-way telecourse and two-way interactive conferencing for the delivery of education at a distance. One-way telecourse conferencing is a course delivered via a microwave uplink to SC-ETV who in turn broadcasts the course via satellite. Two-way interactive conferencing is a course delivered via satellite broadcast with a telephone for two-way audio or, more commonly, compressed video delivered over high capacity data networks called Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDN) or Internet Protocol (IP). A CODEC (Coder/Decoder) compresses the video signal and its accompanying audio stream to reduce the amount of data traveling over the delivery network. The CODEC, a two part electronic device, compresses the two media streams before transmitting them using its Encoder, and decompresses the received media streams using its Decoder.
The popularity of two-way video stems from its ability to replicate a critical element in instruction, face-to-face interaction. However, after assessing the needs of learners and the constraints of course content, many instructors have supplemented the video delivery systems with computer technology - chat rooms, email, bulletin boards, and the World Wide Web - enhancing both interaction and collaboration with and among learners and reframing the educational paradigm of the one-room class. Developing a course for this new learning environment requires new presentation skills and familiarity with the technology. For the students, communicating electronically may require some more deliberate planning and self-motivation. The DE Division provides technical support to faculty, staff, and students by ensuring that:
1. Technology and media choices fit the course learning objectives
2. Training in the use of the technology prior to its use
3. Equipment is operationally reliable and available