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Compressed video learning environments.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of compressed video learning environments on academic achievement of graduate students. The students participating in the compressed video learning environment had a higher achievement based on average, than students involved in the traditional setting. The female students had higher academic achievement than males in both environments.

Introduction

A compressed video learning environment is a setting where students have continual interaction with the educator, both audibly and visually, and each classroom is linked by a television output operated through telephone lines. Compressed video and web-based learning environments are among the most popular types of distance learning. Compressed video learning environments are becoming more common by the day. With advanced technology, engineers are able to compress data without diminishing the quality. Compressed video has given students "the capability of interacting at will, through voice stimulation. This enables each sites member to participate without having a monitor to adjust the camera and thus take time from the learning process" (Harvey & De Vote, 2000, p. 42). As time goes by and technology advances, compressed video learning environments will continue to improve.

Many graduate level students are already in the work force and are trying to juggle everyday life as well as obtaining a higher degree. Compressed video makes that possible by allowing students to attend a university that is hours away from a site that is located near the students' home. "Clearly, we are no longer talking about distance education but rather beginning to envision distance learning" (Hopey & Ginsburg, 1996, p. 2). According to Sims, Dobbs, and Hand (2002), students must tackle with a variety of new learning environments not just compressed video environments. Therefore more research needs to be conducted in order to determine how to best serve students. "To excel in the 21st century, higher education must undergo a paradigm shift from an environment and culture that defines learning as a classroom process, shaped by brick-and-mortar facilities and faculty centered activities, to an environment defined by learner-centered processes" (Dubois, 1996, p. 3).

While technology in education will continue to develop, some professionals will always doubt the quality of education that students receive through the compressed video learning environment. Continued research in the area of compressed video learning environments is the only way to determine whether or not these professionals have a valid point or not. Regardless of the views of some professionals, distance learning will be the only avenue for some students to receive an education. Learning involves a certain amount of responsibility on the part of the instructor and the student. Moore and Kearsley (1996) state that, "students must consciously acquire the skills and habits of being effective distant learners" (p. 12). To make learning more likely to occur, the instructor and site coordinator need to communicate in advance to prevent interruptions due to the lack of preparation (Moore & Kearsley, 1996).

How enjoyable the experience is plays a key role in learning. According to Bork and Gunnarsdottir (2001), learning should be pleasant for everyone. People that have had pleasurable learning experiences in the past are more likely to consider learning in the future. Bork and Gunnarsdottir (2001) believe that people need to continue learning for long periods of time. This would be difficult if the instructor does not make learning enjoyable. The level of interaction that the student and the instructor have is another factor in learning. According to Bork and Gunnarsdottir (2001), it is essential for there to be communication in two directions. This type of communication is rarely found in educational setting today. If students are not allowed to ask questions and take an active role in the learning process, then learning is not likely to happen. "Learning is not a spectator sport," (Mehrotra, Hollister, & McGahey, 2001, p. 35).

Compressed Video Learning Environments

"Television as a medium has been subject to considerable change since the mid-1980s. Increasingly, the development of low-cost and more user-friendly production equipment, and easier access to transmission and distribution facilities such as video conferencing, have encouraged many educational institutions to use television for teaching' (Bates, 1995, p. 88). "One of the fastest growing technologies in distance education in North America and Australia is video conferencing" (Bates, 1995, p. 89).

"As competing distance education technologies emerge, it is important for universities to assess their instructional delivery systems," (Seay, Rudolph, & Chamberlain, 2001, p. 99). With the adoption of fully interactive television, educators and administrators will begin to consider establishing distance courses and programs (Mehrotra, Hollister, & McGahey, 2001), because students who travel are requesting classes offered through interactive television to limit the amount of travel. These students are less tired, therefore more attentive in class. When instructors are made aware of the possibility of using compressed video equipment, advantages that such equipment brings is also pointed out (Feyten & Nutta, 1999). For example, the instructor will now be able to reach many more students because of the technology of compressed video (Bork & Gunnarsdottir, 2001). One myth about distance learning is that students at the external sites will achieve at a lower level than the students at the home site. However, according to Hagedorn (2001), little or no difference exists between students at the home site and the external sites. If the instructor has the skills and knowledge to use the equipment and involve all students in active learning, then academic achievement can occur more readily (Feyten & Nutta, 1999).

To make learning in a compressed video learning environment more attainable, the instructor and site coordinator should work together to avoid certain problems (Moore & Kearsley, 1996, p. 13). Instructors need to do the following to make learning via distance education more pleasant: (1) establish a system of communication for those at distant sites other than just office hours, (2) give students time to interact with other external sites, and (3) address the issue of isolation that is often associated with being at a distant site (Tsai, Cambiano, De Vore, and Harvey, 2000). Moore and Kearsley have shown that no significant relationship exists between attitudes toward distance education and actual achievement (1996). However, Tsai, Cambiano, De Vore, and Harvey (2000) found that students at external sites perceived that learning was affected based on the number of external sites. The more sites there are, the more time it takes for the instructor to monitor learning.

Importance of the Study

"Distance learning, or distance education, is not a future possibility for which higher education must prepare--it is a current reality creating new opportunities and challenges for educational institutions," (Mehrotra, Hollister, & McGahey, 2001, p. ix). More and more people are involved in this trend of attending colleges and universities that offer distance education. Distance education is bridging the generation gap. Finding two or three different generation groups in one classroom is very common. This is made possible in part because of the use of compressed video. Feyten and Nutta (1999) believe that compressed video learning environments are here to stay. In fact, it is now possible to receive a graduate level degree without attending a class on the main campus at some universities (Mehrotra, Hollister, & McGahey, 2001).

This study was conducted to determine whether or not academic achievement is affected when one is in a compressed video learning environment as opposed to a traditional learning environment. "With increasing interest in distance education there needs to be a parallel explosion of research examining the variables related to successful distance education experience," (Harnar, Brown, & Mayhall,, 2000, p. 37). According to Bork and Gunnarsdottir (2001), academic achievement is affected when involved in distance learning of all kinds. However, as educators become more equipped with the knowledge of how to effectively present the material, academic achievement will be very comparable to that of traditional education (Feyten & Nutta, 1999). With higher education being so expensive, distance education may be necessary in order to allow those who need to work the opportunity to do so while being able to obtain a degree. Compressed video makes it easier for individuals to obtain degrees because students can attend classes in a nearby town instead of driving long distances late at night.

The sample consisted of 45 (26 females and 19 males) graduate students at a Midwestern regional comprehensive university. Twenty-four students were receiving information in a traditional learning environment and 21 were receiving information in a compressed video learning environment. The traditional learning environment consisted of 19 females and 5 males. The compressed learning environment consisted of 7 females and 14 males. A t-test was utilized to determine if there was a difference between academic achievement in a compressed video learning environment as compared to that of a traditional setting (p = .05). The t-test indicated that there was a significant difference (t = 5.34; p = .001) between the two groups. A t-test was utilized to determine if there was a difference between males and females (p = .05). The t-test indicated that there was a significant difference between males and females (t = -3.425; p = .002) between the two groups.

Conclusion

According to the data obtained during the study, the students participating in the compressed video learning environment had a higher achievement based average, than students involved in the traditional setting. These findings indicate that not only do distance learners achieve as well as learners in a traditional setting, but academically achieve at a higher level academically. The traditional classroom is becoming a thing of the past. The convenience of distance learning environments is a major factor in today's society. Driving long distances to receive a quality education is no longer necessary. An increasing number of studies are showing that students in compressed video learning environments are in fact achieving academic success. Even though improvements are needed to optimize the system, students are currently learning in compressed video learning environments. As instructors become more familiar with the system, the quality of learning will only increase and the amount of people reached will grow as well.

The research in this study found that distance education could in fact be more effective than traditional education. However, the research showed that no difference in academic achievement exists between traditional learning environments and compressed video learning environments (Hagedorn, 2001). The students participating in this study proved that distance education can work. Not only did the students in the compressed video learning environment achieve as high as the students in the traditional learning environment, but the distance education class scored higher than the traditional class. According to the study, the distance between the students and the instructor did not inhibit learning.

A few limitations include extraneous variables, technology, and communication. An example of an extraneous variable is prior knowledge, time of day, or weather. Weather can be a key factor in the use of technology. A storm can knock out phone lines making a connection to the external site impossible. Also, problems can occur as a lack of education about the technology. If the instructor does not have the knowledge required to use the equipment, then he/she will not be able to help the students at the external sites with problems they may have. However, each site should have a person available to assist with any technology problems that may arise. Communication can also be an inhibitor in distance education environment. Communication is extremely important in any classroom environment, but is especially critical in a distance-learning situation. Being able to communicate the material through the compressed video effectively is a skill that must be obtained by the instructor to insure academic success on the part of the student.

One suggestion for further research is to look at different factors that may effect the way people learn at a distance. For example, is there a difference in academic achievement in compressed video learning environments between men and women? Does race make a difference in the way people learn at a distance? Is age a factor in the success of students in compressed video learning environments? Do learning styles affect the academic achievement in distance learners? Does the number of sites impact the level of academic achievement? These are just a few of the possible questions that could be further researched in order to get a greater perspective of how educators can better serve students, and how students can get the most out of the convenience of distance education.

References

Bates, A. (1995). Technology, open learning and distance education. New York: Routledge.

Bork, A. & Gunnarsdottir, S. (Eds.). (2001). Tutorial distance learning: rebuilding our educational system. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.

Dubois, J. (1996). Going the distance. Adult Learning, 8 (1), 19-21.

Feyten, C. & Nutta, J. (1999). Virtual instruction: issues and insights from an international perspective. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.

Hagedorn, L. (Ed.). (2001). Ready to use classroom practice. Chattanooga, TN: Rapid Intellect Group.

Harnar, M., Brown, S., & Mayhall, H. (2000). Measuring the effect of distance education on the learning experience: teaching accounting via picture (c). International Journal of Instructional Media, 27 (1), 37-49.

Harvey, R. L. & De Vore, J. B. (2000). Myths of interactive television distance learning. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 4 (3), 42-45.

Hopey, C. E. & Ginsburg, L. (1996). Distance education: a systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Mehrotra, C. Hollister, C. D., & McGahey, L. (2001). Distance learning: principles for effective design, delivery, and evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Moore, M. & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Seay, R., Rudolph, H., & Chamberlain, D. (2001). Faculty perceptions of interactive television instruction, 77 (2), 99-105.

Sims, R, Dobbs, G., Hand, T. (2002) Enhancing quality in online learning: Scaffolding planning and design through proactive evaluation. Distance Education, 23 (2), 135-149.

Tsai, P., Cambiano, R., De Vore, J., & Harvey, R. (2000). Graduate students' perceptions of distance learning. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 4 (3), 62-66.

Jennifer Falkner, Arkansas State University Renee L. Cambiano, Northeastern State University, OK

Falkner, M. S., is the counselor at Arkansas State University Newport. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Cambiano, Ed. D., is an assistant professor of Teacher Education and program chair for the Master's in Education in Teaching. Her research interests include: Learning Preferences, Technology Education, Generational Learning, Compressed Learning Environments, and Instructional Technologies.
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Author:Cambiano, Renee L.
Publication:Academic Exchange Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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