This STC 2008 session reported findings of an STC-funded study of distance education and a case study for producing online courses from nothing (no materials or experience). The first study (by Rensselaer Polytechnic and New York Life) offered concrete tips for improving distance learning:
- Tag team: Use a course host/MC for every class, to set up, manage chat channels, direct group exercises, and record/archive, offloading the instructor.
- Plan for pain: Expect a third of the problems to be technical (media technology) and another third to be poor use of interactive channels.
- Control eyeballs: Best results come from 100% participation, by preventing/discouraging multi-tasking.
- Be fair: Use round-robin technique to ensure onsite and remote participants are equally involved (fear also heightens attention).
- Use the best: Use media in this order of effectiveness (ease and reliability): conference call (best), video conference, chat, whiteboard.
- Avoid all-in-1: Tools that bundle teleconferencing with video and more prove unreliable; move voice to Skype or similar, and push video to YouTube or similar services.
- Peer power: Seek technology that makes it easy for learners to help each other and interact -- it's effective and they want it.
The case study shows how Credence System jumped into remote learning, to meet customer demands for training when and where they need it. They tackled it with risk-management in the driver's seat: