Whether a student is in an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral program the goal of nurse educators is not only to disseminate knowledge but to construct new knowledge through critical thinking, problem solving, leadership ability, and political acumen. To develop knowledge and a voice to express that knowledge, the process of education must connect, engage, and involve the student. With the advent of distance learning technologies the challenge to the faculty is to create a connected class without being physically present.
The term distance education arose from the situation where students were receiving instruction at a site physically separate from the teacher. Through our experience with interactive video we have learned that without access to critical information, available support, state of the art resources, and key relationships the terms used to describe off-site education begin to characterize both the student and faculty experience: the education is distant, the faculty is remote, and the learning is disconnected. For both students and faculty using interactive video is like entering a foreign land, at first nothing is familiar. This article provides information about the unfamiliar aspects of technology and reminds us of the pedagogical expertise we bring into this new setting. In the following paragraphs we address both the technical and pedagogical information, support, resources, and relationships required for successful use of interactive video in the classroom.
IN THE BEGINNING
We investigated the potential for employing interactive video in the classroom with the goal of carrying out the mission of the university: providing access to education. Our primary interest was to offer students in rural and urban settings access to an efficient, cost effective, student-centered baccalaureate program. Prior to incorporating interactive video into the program students were driving more than two hours from five states to participate in our successful returning RN curriculum. In our first attempt to increase educational access, we sent faculty to the distant site rather than requiring students to travel. The student response to university courses offered was so overwhelmingly positive that the number of distance sites doubled requiring more faculty resources than were available. The increase in student demand combined with the reality of limited faculty resources was a prime motivator for choosing interactive video as a teaching tool.
When the idea of employing interactive video (IV) in the classroom was introduced, faculty and students were reticent to change what had proved to be a very successful formula for RN education: after fulfilling the prerequisite requirement students could complete the program by attending classes in one day over a full year. Within the intense teaching learning experience of three classes in one day, faculty actively engaged students in all aspects of the curriculum from planning to evaluation. With the introduction of technology, faculty were committed to preserving the successful components of the program: concentrated faculty/student involvement, student centered curriculum, and innovative pedagogy. However, we recognized although distance education is designed to improve access it may serve to perpetuate the very educational traditions and patriarchal practices that we had methodically eliminated from the curriculum. As Bowman and WiU (1994) succinctly stated, distance education has the potential to marginalize the individuals it purports to enable by the very strategies that ironically improve access. For example, the necessity for intensive preplanning could endanger the flexibility and spontaneity that had heretofore been hallmarks of our program. We were also aware of the possibility of intricacies of interactive video technology silencing rather than creating student voice. The importance of adult learners being actively involved in the learning process was of primary concern. From our experience with adult learners we knew that it was essential for students to have the opportunity to connect their experience to didactic information. As Bowman and Will (1994) recognized, a critical component of the adult learning environment is to have the time and setting conducive to students telling their stories, in particular for students to be able to ground their learning in their professional practice. Our goal was to promote educational activities that would increase the nursing voice within the practice of politics. The technology would be used as a tool to enhance the dissemination and the construction of knowledge through teacher-student dialogue across the miles.
The theory of work effectiveness suggests that empowerment to do one's job evolves from two capacities:
* Access to information, support, and resources necessary to accomplish the task.
* Developing the critical administrative, collegial, and subordinate relationships to facilitate cooperation in accomplishing the task (Kanter, 1977).
These four components of the work effectiveness model- information, support, resources, and relationships-provide a framework for empowering faculty and students for success in teaching and technology. Ranter's (1977) study concluded that an individual's position in the organization has a dramatic effect on one's behavioral response to work. The original results indicated those in positions that afforded workers access to appropriate information, instrumental and emotional support, and necessary resources responded with increased motivation, commitment, efficacy, and risk-taking behaviors. The structure of work was not as effective when information was blocked, support was lacking, resources were unavailable, or relationships underdeveloped. Individuals responded with decreased commitment, rigidity, rules orientation, and devalued their own skills. In this article when considering the structure of the academic work environment, these four components- information, support, resources and relationships- provide a useful framework to situate our discussion of the technology and the pedagogy with the goal of empowering faculty and students. In the following paragraphs the four components will be addressed for both technology and teaching.
Information about the actual equipment, available technical support, a well equipped classroom, and an infrastructure designed to provide access to the people required to create an interactive video classroom are all necessary for faculty and students to employ technology successfully into the pedagogy.
For even the most technically inclined the machines for interactive video teaching can be intimidating. The ISDN lines, 20" X 30" screen, viewing all sites, positioning the cameras, adjusting the microphones in addition to teaching the class content is an awesome task. Yet, in reality the basic equipment for IV is no different from what has been in homes for years: television, camera, telephone, and a remote control. The phone lines allow faculty to connect their image and voice to the off-site television monitor. The microphones and cameras at the receiving end pick up the sound and image of the students and instantly transfer the image back to the instructor's classroom. Buttons on the keypad alter the volume and move the camera in the front and back of the room to capture different locations in the off-site classroom. In addition to the monitor and cameras, there is a document camera (similar to an overhead projector), a slide projector, a VCR, and computer hook-up. While all of the teaching equipment is familiar, the difference is managing it from a single station while sending the sound and picture to one or more sites instantaneously. Though a technician should be available to address the technical aspects of delivery, the faculty member also needs to be comfortable managing the technology so he or she can focus on teaching.
Much like the traditional class when there is a new text or a new computer program, faculty need to be familiar with the material before sharing it with the students. Because IV learning is dependent on the technology, the equipment, how one relates to it, and the climate it creates, all require attention to insure smooth delivery. For example, three weeks into an IV class, on a visit to a distant site we only learned by sitting with the students in the back of the room that it was difficult to read the material on the monitor. The students, teacher's assistant, or technician had not mentioned this problem. The solution of adding another monitor was easily accomplished. The very basic questions for the IV classroom that need to be addressed are similar to the concerns in a traditional classroom: Can everyone see? Can everyone hear? Is there enough or too much light? Is there adequate space, heat, and air conditioning?
Tips for Success in an Interactive Video (IV) Class
Students as well as faculty need information about the IV experience class prior to the first day of class. Before the beginning of the semester the instructor should initiate contact with students to give them information about the IV learning environment. Let students know about the physical layout of the classroom and the equipment that will be in the room. Having the videos that many of the interactive video companies offer describing the IV experience available to students is another resource. Including a staff member in the information loop will give the students access by phone to ask questions that come up before the semester begins. Let students know you expect active student involvement so part of their orientation to the class will include how to use the technology. It is wise to reiterate information on adult learning to remind students they are expected to take an active role in defining their own learning objectives, despite the fact that so much of the course is preplanned.
The first meeting of the IV class is quite similar to other traditional first classes with the addition of information on how to be a participant in an IV class. To assure that the class is interactive students should receive instructions about using the microphones, camera, and document camera (Table 1). For example, students should be made aware that microphones pick up unwanted sounds such as rustling papers, whispering, and moving around. These sounds travel and can be distracting. We found that giving breaks regularly as well as varying the classroom activities cut down on much of this white noise and made it easier for everyone to concentrate. Frequent breaks also decreased the amount of extraneous movement that the camera picks up and exaggerates. If the instructor plans to have students interact between sites, students should have an opportunity to practice with the equipment. The instructor should also share his or her specific expectations for participation. We found the following three directives helpful to share with students:
* The instructor will talk for 10 minutes (experienced IV users recommend lecturing no more than 15 minutes at a time) then two individuals from each site submit questions or comments.
* Each time the instructor asks for comments a different student is expected to respond.
* Students asking the question should introduce themselves and name their site.
Some of this information is obvious (e.g., different students should respond to the instructor); however, we have found when technology is introduced the normal ways of interacting in class are put aside. It is useful to remind everyone up front how to engage in the teaching-learning process. Table 1 is an example of the handout we distributed in the first class.
An important issue to be reviewed in the first class is the arrangement for contingency plans in case of technological failures. To facilitate the implementation of the plan, it is helpful to have the phone numbers of the other sites (put them on the course syllabus) to contact the site facilitator. Make sure you have access to another phone line that is not being used by the video equipment. Before you make decisions as how to proceed with class, consult with the technician to get an estimate of how long it will take to fix the problem. If the class cannot continue as planned there are several options: tape the class and mail the tape to the other locations, use the site facilitator to continue the class, or cancel class and give alternate assignments. Support is required to circumvent technology and teaching problems.
Questions to Ask before Purchasing Equipment
Technical support at each site is mandatory. Our emphasis on technical support is the result of our experience of trying to manage without a technician. In the long run the up front cost, time, and frustration will be saved if technical support is provided from the beginning. How much support is needed depends on the individual faculty member. For example, one of our faculty insists on having a technician manage the equipment at all times, another prefers to share this responsibility with the students, and another will not surrender the controls. Each faculty memeber needs to clarify what technical assistance means individually by answering these questions. Do you need hands on help or consultation backup? Should the technician be in the room, down the hall, or across town carrying a beeper? At the beginning of the semester there will be need for more assistance. As the semester progresses when faculty and students become familiar with the equipment, the need for technical support is likely to decrease. Regardless of individual faculty preference, however, there are some basic issues related to technical support that all faculty need to consider (Table 2).
All equipment should be tested prior to class so that it is in good working order. Again, we have learned this through the experience of having a guest speaker who wanted to show a simple video. The VCR worked fine in the classroom but could not transmit the video to the distant site. It was not until after class that the technician was able to identify a remedy to the problem. In the meantime the speaker was without a teaching tool that was the primary focus of the class. Having the right equipment at the right time is critical to the success of the class. In our experience, the company that sold us the equipment was extraordinarily responsive to our needs. However, they were in business to sell their product; they were not educators. The best advice for choosing technical resources is, in addition to the assistance of your information system's office, consult with experienced faculty prior to investing in new hardware (Table 3).
It is important to have the infrastructure necessary to support distance learning. A year-long planning effort went into preparing for our first IV class. A committee of staff, faculty, and administration met monthly to work out details of space, access to equipment, budget, and maintenance.
Initially there was a surge of interest and excitement. The process of introducing such a major change is analogous to having a new baby. At first everyone is curious. Well-wishers send gifts, flowers arrive at the door, and distant aunts and uncles press their noses up against the nursery window. During our first IV semester a reception was held, extraneous deans, faculty, and staff stopped in to observe class while the university president and a local politician expounded upon our visionary advances in technology. By the second semester, just as with a new baby, enthusiasm wanes and parents are left alone- so was the individual instructor. This predictable shift in interest can be anticipated. After the initial fanfare, experienced IV faculty are likely to adjust well to the lack of attention; however, with a new semester there are new faculty who have not used the equipment. Administration and staff can anticipate the novice faculty's need for additional training and ongoing support.
Technology alone, learning how to move the cameras and mute the far end, is only one small step in creating a connected class. Faculty and administration need to be aware that putting a teacher in a room with a technician and the latest equipment is only the beginning. To borrow the corporate response to the realization that computers have not increased profits: technology is not enough. Teaching via IV requires an examination of pedagogical assumptions.
Instructors incorporating new technologies into their teaching have an opportunity to revisit their educational philosophy, values, roles, and strategies. Too often faculty, administration, and technicians have the notion that the machines can simply be an adjunct to teaching. The fact is both senior and novice faculty should be provided with the opportunity to consult with educational experts about designing, implementing, and evaluating their course for use over interactive video. The four structural components for empowerment- information, support, resources, and relationships- provide a map for reviewing course content and process.
Information about good teaching often eludes faculty. The old adage, "we teach the way we were taught" still holds true. The advent of technology in the classroom provides the opportunity to review and examine pedagogy from philosophy to course materials.
Tiberius (1991) offers two dominant philosophies underlying teaching and learning: transmission and dialogue. Transmission suggests that instructors be viewed as engineers whose goal is the transfer of information from teacher to student. The emphasis is on the efficiency of the information transfer. Traditionally the most efficient method of information transfer has been to function as the "sage on stage." This sage on stage approach connotes a sense of passivity in the educational process. The second philosophy of teaching uses dialogue as the primary learning method. The learning takes place through conversation: "education becomes a human enterprise that takes place within a personal relationship" (Tiberius, 1986, p. 148). The teacher assumes the "guide on the side" role. Tiberius suggests that three essential components- interaction, cooperation, and relationships- serve to make the teaching-learning experience an active process in which both parties become partners in the educational exchange. The philosophy that dominates one's view of pedagogy will inform how one teaches. This is particularly the case when IV becomes part of the classroom landscape.
The television monitor used with the interactive video equipment can lead both teachers and students to expect the sage on stage model of presentation. The presence of a television screen in the classroom automatically puts students in the passive role. Ostendorf (1994) speaks of the necessity of "breaking through the glass" (p. 4) as a prerequisite for interactivity when teaching in an IV class. She suggests the instructor must reach past the distant TV screen to create a presence in the off-site classroom. In response to the instructor, students must interact with a camera by speaking to an image on the television screen. Initially our students reported it was too cumbersome to interrupt the faculty and draw attention to themselves. If students asked questions or made comments the camera would zoom in on them and project their image onto the screen. Viewing oneself on a large screen in front of the class was uncomfortable for many. In addition, because of the time it takes to manage the technology, faculty either directly or indirectly communicate to the students that there is too much content to teach and too little time for questions. Consequently, it is easy for the instructor to slip back into the sage on stage role. In the first semester evaluations of TV, several students suggested faculty "just IeCtUTe." In response to the students, one instructor acknowledged a similar sentiment: "Using IV takes me twice as long to teach half as much." There is no question IV requires a concerted investment of both time and energy. Timely reflection on pedagogy is a worthwhile investment of energy.
While technological support is essential in keeping the system running as smoothly as possible, administrative support is critical. For example, faculty should know their assignments ahead of time to plan the course and be adequately trained in the use of the technology. This type of teaching can be time consuming and administrators should take this into consideration when making faculty assignments. Everyone needs to be cognizant of the added responsibilities when evaluating personnel actions such as tenure and promotion. Fetzer (1997) found that when comparing teaching evaluations from traditionally taught classes with those taught via IV, students rated faculty lower for the IV class. Anecdotal evidence from faculty support these data with untenured and contract faculty expressing concern that distance teaching makes them potentially vulnerable to not being rehired. These concerns need to figure into any discussions about adopting this form of technology in the classroom to avoid decisions being made capriciously.
As stated previously, planning for the course ahead of time is essential. Arranging for textbooks, course packets, library access, and computer connections are all details that need to be considered if the students are not coming to campus. Along with these arrangements students need to know how to obtain identification cards and email accounts from a distance. Having course material available at the distant sites takes forethought and lead time.
Creating and Maintaining Faculty-Student Relationships at a Distance
Research (Dillon & Walsh, 1992; La Salle, 1996; Wurzbach, 1993) has consistently shown that a critical component for student learning is the faculty-student relationship. Such findings underscore the importance of dialogue. In evaluating the class, students reported that when faculty were not actually present, they felt disconnected. Consequently, how does one create the teacherstudent relationship over a distance? When the mystique of the technology is removed and the emphasis is simply on creating a long-distance relationship the solution becomes as familiar as establishing a connection with a pen pal. We only need to look to the literary classics for guidance. For centuries people have met, fallen in love, and maintained relationships over the miles. A reflection on Jane Austin reminds us that letters, gifts, flowers, and infrequent but well-planned visits can keep a relationship alive and well for years. Creating a relationship with students at the off-site campus requires the same forethought and attention to detail as any other distant relationship. The tried and true methods of letters, phone calls, scheduled meetings combined with the modern amenities of voice mail, email, and the Internet provide a base for communicating over the miles. Table 4 identifies more specific suggestions for faculty-student relationships.
Having a facilitator actively involved at each site helps students engage in the class. In our case, we employed graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) in the site facilitator role. The TAs carried out the traditional functions of an assistant by acting as faculty representatives, clarifying course requirements, correcting papers, and grading exams. In addition, the TA served in the place of the instructor in the case of equipment failure. To fill the instructor role the faculty were expected to supply the TA with a detailed class outline well in advance of each class to allow the TA the necessary time to prepare for class discussion. In many of our 3-hour classes, we structured the class activities as to be on video for half of the class followed by each site's TA facilitating the discussion for the remaining class time. The TAs (one assigned to each site) attended to the sense of isolation and disconnection the students expressed by holding regularly scheduled office hours, corresponding through email, and being available on voice mail. It is essential that TAs be exposed to educational theory, instructional strategies, and curriculum design as well as the implications of age, gender, and culture on the learning environment. Just as faculty, TAs need adequate training with the equipment to feel independent enough to manage alone at a distant site.
MAKING TECHNOLOGY INVISIBLE
The first generation of teachers using IV naturally put technology, the new kid on the block, at center stage. There was more enthusiasm over investing in the machines than could ever be mustered for funding faculty development. Dillon (1989) found that chief academic officers often believed that IV teaching and, more generally, distance education strategies benefited their institutions by portraying them as technologically savvy which, in turn, made them more attractive for recruiting and funding purposes. IV seemed like the ideal answer to the pressing administrative problems of faculty travel, limited resources, and student accessibility. Faculty, too, became enamored with the technology, embracing it as a new teaching strategy while concomitantly playing with a new gadget. Acting like starry-eyed children, intelligent educators let their usual discriininating analytic skills go by the wayside. Bromley (1998) observed "the sort of judgment that would be exercised as a matter of course when any other new element entered a social situation is usually suspended when the addition is a piece of technology" (p. 21). Rather than seeing technology as a social phenomenon that deserved thoughtful employment of the usual fine-tuned skills of planning, implementing, directing, and evaluating the attitude became "this technology exists; we've got to have it" (Bromley, 1998, p. 21). The result of this technological immersion has been that the classroom became technology-driven rather than curriculum driven. In our case we were not exempt, initially IV drove the pedagogy.
Empirical evidence supported this technological upsurge. Several studies (Cronin & Stahl, 1991; Fletcher, 1990; Keck, 1992) compared interactive video classes with "traditional" classroom approaches and found no differences in outcome measures of performance such as grades, motivation, or other measurements of student achievement. Yet, in our experience, after the initial honeymoon period both faculty and students became disenchanted with limits of the technology. Hansen and Irvin (1996) and LaSaIIe (1996) reported from their IV classes that their respective students complained of feeling disconnected from faculty, silenced, and intimidated by the presence of the equipment. In our technology evaluations, students felt they learned the essential content; however, initially they reported feeling cheated by not being able to "talk" to faculty and their education did not feel "real" because of the distance. These issues were subsequently addressed through developing strategies for maintaining long distance relationships (Table 4).
Despite the limitations students unequivocally voted to keep the technology because its presence "made getting my BS possible." Because the initiation of IV in the RN program both doctoral and graduate students have voiced similar sentiments. Students recognized the educational opportunities heretofore unavailable and now they could learn without the burden of traveling. Shoemaker and Fairbanks (1997) heard similar comments from graduate students enrolled in a long-distance education program. LaSalle (1996) suggests that students in the distant classroom cultivated relationships with each other and were more self-directed in their learning as compared with university-based students. Cronin and Cronin (1992) report that there is some evidence to suggest that students learning via IV are somewhat more motivated than traditionally educated students. The IV student tends to participate more actively in the learning process. IV teaching offers benefits as well as raises concerns that educators need to attend to when designing IV courses. Yemma (1998) writes that for technology to support creativity and not be a barrier to the transmission of knowledge, it must get out of the way. In other words, technology needs to become invisible.
The key to making technology invisible is in knowing how to manage the equipment so that the machines and the miles between the instructor and students disappear. The objective is to forget the distance so that all involved feel like they are having a conversation in the same room. For the distance to disappear, the instructor needs to be capable of managing the technology so smoothly that the teacher-student dialogue progresses at a natural, uninterrupted pace. The goal is to create a connected class over the miles.
After four years of teaching with IV we have learned that the overarching message is that technology is not the goal but merely a vehicle for learning. The intent of education remains the same: to develop in-depth knowledge of the discipline, technical skills, and practice experience. IV offers more options for creating an environment to facilitate the dissemination, acquisition, and construction of knowledge. The process of teaching requires improvisation, spontaneity, planning, and passion for the subject and the students. These pedagogical essentials need to be integrated into any classroom whether at a distance or close to home.
In this article, we addressed the two constituent features essential to IV teaching: the pedagogy and the technology. Weaving our own experiences with information from the literature, we discussed these matters with an eye toward unraveling the complexities of teaching with technology. Without critical information, support, attention to relationships, and resources, faculty and students are ill prepared for the paradigm shift required for IV courses. Basic tenets of nursing education include the necessity of developing knowledge as well as a voice to express that knowledge. The educational process is most effective when the students are connected, engaged, and involved. The virtual classroom adds another dimension in creating connection through nursing education.
- Bowman, A., & Will, R. (1994). Distance education for nurses: A feminist perspective. Sixth Annual Critical Feminist Theory Conference Proceedings.
- Bromley, H. (1998). How to tell if you really need the latest technology. Though and Action, XTV(I), 21-28.
- Cronin, M., & Cronin, K. (1992). Recent empirical studies of the pedagogical effects of interactive video instruction in "soft skill" areas. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 3(2), 53-85.
- Cronin, M., & Stahl, J. (1991, April). A demonstration workshop on interactive video instruction in reducing speech fright. Paper presented at the meeting of the Eastern Communication Association, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Dillon, C, & Walsh, S. (1992). Faculty: The neglected resource in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 6(3), 5-21.
- Fetzer, S. (1997, May). The effect of interactive television on RN student evaluation of faculty performance. Paper presented at the Nurses in the Information Age Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
- Fletcher, J. (1990). Effectiveness and cost of interactive video instruction in defense training and education (IDA Paper P2372). Alexandria, VA: Institute for Defense Analysis.
- Hansen, D., & Irvin, S. (1996). Interactive video and female learning: Implications for a feminized profession. Feminist Collections, 17(2), 13-15.
- Kanter, R.M. (1977). Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books.
- Keck, J. (1992). Comparison of learning outcomes between graduate students in telecourses and those in traditional classrooms. Journal of Nursing Education, 31, 229-234.
- La Salle, L. (1996). Interactive television: Teaching and learning viewed through a feminist perspective. Feminist Collections, 17(2), 10-12.
- Ostendorf, V. (1994). The two-way video classroom. Littleton, CO: Virginia Ostendorf, Inc.
- Shoemaker, D., & Fairbanks, J. (1997). Evaluation of an RN to BSN distance education program via satellite for nurses in rural health care. Journal of Nursing Education, 36, 329-330.
- Tiberius, R.G. (1986). Metaphors underlying the improvement of teaching and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 17, 144-156.
- Wurzbach, M.E. (1993). Teaching nursing ethics on interactive television: Fostering interactivity. Journal of Nursing Education, 32, 37-39.
- Yemma, J. (1998, May 17). The digital dorm. The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, p. 6.
Tips for Success in an Interactive Video (IV) Class
Questions to Ask before Purchasing Equipment
Creating and Maintaining Faculty-Student Relationships at a Distance