Re: Challenging proposals

Rodney M. Dyer (
Wed, 14 Jun 1995 11:51:36 -0400

>I've had the pleasure of your narrow opinion on the subject of teaching via
>vid/aud tools on the net and I would have to state that it is possibly
>your "recreational experimentation" with the net that disallows you from
>finding suitable applications for what we have available today. We use
>CUSeeme as a viable tool in teaching several locations via distance
>education. It's extremely cost effective and dependable. Our province
>is vast (check the map for Newfoundland) and we can deliver quality
>instructors that would not, otherwise, be willing to teach in these rural
>locations. Groups of students participate at regional colleges in groups
>from 8-12 per site. The technology is there; the need is there; the
>students are motivated and the results are comparable to on campus. Try it.
>What's not to understand about that?

At our university, our staff has experimented with many types of
audio/video tools for learning and technical support. The results
thus far have been less than desirable. We provide video
conference rooms for faculty, staff and students. These rooms allow
viewing of remote, or local, classes and seminars. I have sat in on
direct microwave feeds from seminars at other universities (direct
broadband, no net). Our Sun workstations and PC's can also connect
to the projection equipment in the conference room. This allows viewing
of MBONE transmissions. We have also watched satellite feeds from
various sources.

With all this technology (money) involved, you need some gauge to
measure what you are getting out of it. Our gauge is response sheets
from the faculty, staff, and students. The results? Well we almost get
a reasonable response on the microwave, and video broadcasts.
Things get much worse when you start talking about MBONE. MBONE
transmissions seem to be almost useless, again, not because the
technology isn't there, but because internet network traffic is just too

Where does cuseeme fit into this picture? It doesn't. We have only
been able to do cuseeme with audio on Mac's so far. And even the
results from Macs don't show promise.

Turns out that the good old reliable video tape, with a well prepared
seminar or lecture is the best tool for remote classes right now if you
can't get a broadband transmission. MBONE and maybe cuseeme is
only good for responses.

I must say that because of a longer education, university students
and faculty probably expect more than younger people. Young
people, because of less education, don't really know what to expect,
they only know what makes them go "wow".

I think you should review your expectations, make sure you are getting
a high payoff with your classes vs. time and effort. If not, then you are
propagating a myth about technology...that it makes people smarter.

Am I narrow minded? Maybe, but I think some people push the limits
of technolgy before it is of good use, at the expense of education.


Rodney M. Dyer
PC Network Administrator
College of Engineering
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Phone: (704)547-3154