The Implementation of Distance Learning In The Electronic Classroom


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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this case study research was to identify the factors and supporting strategies that contribute to the implementation of DL instruction in the two-way audio/video (A/V) electronic classroom (EC). A primary goal of this research was to develop an outline of a DL manual that identifies factors and strategies or subject areas that can be used to: (a) contribute to knowledge in the field of practice, (b) improve practice, and (c) improve the quality and success of DL teaching in the EC. Additionally, this study attempted to ascertain the differences and similarities in perceptions among students, facilitators, and training officers who participated in the EC. A list of recommendations are presented at the end of this study; the first list of recommendations suggest areas for the improvement of practice and to influence the quality and success of DL. The second set of recommendations suggest areas for further study to add to knowledge in the field as well as to improve practice.

The case study was completed employing a qualitative methodology using focus group interviews, observations, and written feedback from EC participants. Focus group 1 (data set I) was conducted using a set of 13 pre-determined questions with a total of eleven participants. The EC observations (data set II) was conducted at the Navy Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center (NMITC), Dam Neck, VA with 5 students in attendance. The second focus group (data set III) was conducted with a set of 15 different pre-determined questions with the same 5 students at the NMITC immediately after the observations in the EC. The FGIs and observations were video and audio taped for further review and analysis. Written information reported from two different distant site locations (same course and telecast) was analyzed, coded, and used as data set IV. This data set further clarified and corroborated data generated in data sets I, II, and III.

This case study identified 10 key factors and supporting strategies pertinent to the implementation of DL in the EC. One of the findings in this study was that the roles of the instructor and the facilitator are interwoven; this arrangement is seen as a two-person "team" by this study's participants because the instructor and facilitator are dependent on each other in order to implement DL and ensure quality operations in the EC. This is a new paradigm shift in the instructor's role when compared with the conventional classroom instructor. In my examination of the literature, I could not find that this collaborative arrangement of a two-person "team" was addressed. Other findings were: (a) the importance of the student guide and supplemental materials that aided EC interactions and (b) the importance of the EC design as a quality indicator and how it can facilitate a good learning environment.

Based on a synthesis of the data, there was considerable agreement among the users about the factors and strategies used to operationalize DL in the EC. The facilitators and training officers placed more emphasis on the administrative and return on investment aspects of DL -- cost savings, access to training at duty location -- versus the students who placed more stress on instructional strategies — questioning and interaction techniques -- that worked well for them in the EC and the importance of EC courses helping them to keep up to date with job competencies.



distance learning, distance education, electronic classroom