Distance Learning Technologies
By Joseph Sicard
As technology continues to rapidly advance and cultivate, so do the avenues of presenting distance learning. Universities, corporations, and students now have endless opportunities to share information across time and space, with or without the others involved being present at the time of upload through the internet. “As new technologies emerge, instructional designers and educators have unique opportunities to foster interaction and collaboration among leaders, thus creating a true learning community” (Beldarrain, 2006).
This week I was tasked with identifying some distance learning technologies that would best provide a training solution for a new automated staff information system that had to be implemented across six differently located regional offices that could not meet at the same time or location. As an instructional designer or training development lead, I will face “growing pressure to enhance [training] curriculum quality while maintaining equity in education… and accomplish this within the framework of extreme budget constraints” (Bingham et. al, 2000). Right off the bat I see the need for a training video to teach each regional office how to use the staff information system and a file sharing site that users can access to download any documents necessary to complete their task.
“The investment in distance learning technology can turn into long term cost reduction by reducing travel, delivery expenses, while increasing effectiveness and providing the ability to track results” (Bingham et. al, 2000). One of the ways to reduce cost would be to use open source software to share the created training video. “Open source software is intended to be freely shared and can be improved upon and redistributed to others” (Simonson et. al, 2012). In order to provide each regional office with a “how to” training video and stay within little to no budget for the corporation, I would suggest using the open source called CamStudio. CamStudio is able to record all screen and audio activity on a computer that can be used to demonstrate how to use this new staff information system (CamStudio.org, 2013). There are other free screen cast streaming video software sources available, but I choose CamStudio based off of the ability to “choose to use custom cursors, to record the whole screen or just a section of it” and the ability to “reduce or increase the quality of the recording depending on if you want smaller videos”. The staff information system will more than likely be an elaborate system that will take numerous screen cast videos that can be broken up by topic when using the system. The ability to create, save, and possibly send small quality videos to the regional offices will be key. Instead of sending the files via email, media sharing utilities like Citrix Share File, YouSendIt, AMRDEC, and Google Docs.
Media sharing sites “allow you to upload your photos, videos and audio to a website that can be accessed from anywhere in the world” (Affilorama.com, n.d.). Media file sharing is where corporations start to pay to share large multimedia files. Some of the considerations to keep in mind when deciding which type of media sharing site to use are how large is the file to upload, bandwidth required, and storage space needed. If the corporation wanted to use a free media sharing site it can turn to Youtube.com to share its streaming screen casts. YouTube defines its limit of a file to 15 minutes or less, but if the corporation wanted to upload a larger file, it will be subject to YouTube compressing the file.
In conclusion the corporation has many options to share the staff information system instructions it will create due to their employees not being able to be in the same place at the same time. The key will be to use “video and computer based systems” to provide “effective utilization of distance education classrooms…. Teaching with technology to learners who are not physically located in the same site where instruction is taking place requires a different set of skills and competencies than traditional education. Technologies are tools that must be mastered to be effective” (Simonson et. al, 2012).
Affilorama. (n.d.). What is a media sharing site? Retrieved July 19, 2014 from http://www.affilorama.com/internet101/media-sharing
Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 139-153.
Bingham, J., Davis, T. & Moore, C. (2000). Emerging Technologies in Distance Learning. Issues Challenging Education. Retrieved from http://horizon.unc.edu/projects/issues/papers/Distance_Learning.html
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson