To assist in effectively conveying material, faculty and students should utilize the appropriate graphic, image, and sound software packages available to add value to the topic at hand. Examples include PowerPoint, Authorware, and Toolbook to mention but a few. The use of computer, video/audio, transmission, and receiving technology should be incorporated into the design.
2. The requirements for teaching in distance learning are different from traditional face-to-face teaching and therefore require a new infrastructure. This guideline required thought for the remote-site conditions in regard to lighting, sound, and classroom use of space as well as transmitting and receiving equipment discussed in the preceding guideline (for example, student tables with microphones and computer conferencing capabilities). Distributing materials to and from the host institution through local area networks, testing requirements, electronic library access, and remote-site administrative concerns must also be addressed.
The faculty who teach in this mode will also have different needs and requirements. The multiple sites will dictate more consideration and coordination of materials distribution, site visitations, proctors for tests, and opening and closing site duties. For many faculty, the preparation for these activities will require longer lead time and additional skills in presentation. The dynamics of a multisite classroom using multimedia technology while trying to encourage interaction and still communicate the subject under study needs someone akin to an orchestra conductor. Training (which is frequently lacking) is needed to best accomplish this feat with more time and resources provided for practice and preparation actually using the distance-learning facility. An additional consideration would be rotation of site visitations by the faculty member depending on goals of the course or program. For instance, as the next guideline indicates, the necessary human element, or face-to-face, contact may be very important to the faculty, student, and school.
3. To maintain the human element through distance learning, face-to-face and other forms of interaction should be included in the course development and administration. Face-to-face interaction could be achieved through rotating the faculty at the various sites, establishing some class meetings where all students must be present at the same location, maintaining office hours before or after site rotations, and encouraging off-site students to visit the origination facility. Additionally, the human element may be advanced through many other forms of interaction. The design of the course could include opportunities for students to interact with others through in- and out-of-class activities, student directed questions, and intersite projects requiring interaction. The faculty member may also use student information sheets provided during the first class session and call upon specific students with questions that relate to their particular background and needs. Class time during the first session could be devoted to introductions of each student, faculty, and other site personnel. The communication systems of e-mail, voice-mail, and electronic bulletin boards can also be incorporated throughout the course time, reinforcing topic- and class-related activities or both. The faculty is also encouraged to mail a midcourse evaluation letter to each student summarizing both content covered during the semester and individual progress. Last, student input at midterm should be requested in regard to distance-learning issues. This information could provide material for class discussion, and adjustments could be made as needed to enhance the human element.