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Strategies for Effective Teaching:
Using Interactive Video in the Distance Education Classroom:

All You Ever Wanted to Know before You Knew You Needed to Know

by: M. Jayne Brady, M.S.S., M.S.W., L.C.S.W
Florida State University

"Teaching is still the most important element in the distance learning classroom."
Dr. William Tolone

This manual was prepared as part of the class requirements for the course Introduction to Distance Learning in the College of Education, Spring, 1997, Florida State University.


Distance education is growing with such speed and excitement that those who are responsible for course delivery (the instructors) are often overwhelmed. This is especially true of the distance educator in higher education. Instructors are increasingly being asked to provide courses with an unfamiliar delivery system. The response of the ill-prepared instructor is to teach the course as it would be taught in the traditional classroom. However, the distance learning environment is different from the traditional classroom and requires different strategies to enhance effective teaching.

The following mini manual is designed to provide information directed at assisting the novice instructor, at Florida State University School of Social Work, to deliver an effective distance learning course when using interactive video (IV) conferencing. Provided is a brief overview of the technology followed by strategies currently in the literature and suggestions for evaluation of students and instructors.

Special thanks to Dr. Judith Boettcher and Rita Marie Conrad who made this project possible and gave me the foundation upon which this manual rests.


What is Interactive Video ?
Advantages of IV
Disadvantages of IV
Instructional Strategies
Prior to the First Class
The First Class
Variety and Interaction
Instructor/Student Dialogue
Presentation Style
Telelearning Checklist
Glossary of Terms


What is interactive video (IV)?

In the past, distance learning with two-way video was out of reach for many institutions. Recent innovations of telecommunications technologies, such as compressed interactive video systems, have lowered equipment and transmission costs, making two-way video feasible for small colleges, businesses, classrooms, libraries and even homes (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.) Unfortunately, access to interactive video technology does not guarantee a valuable learning exchange.

Interactive Video (IV) is an effective method of delivering information to remote distance educational settings. Interactive video supports two-way video and audio communication between multiple locations. Most IV systems utilize compressed digital video for the transmission of motion images over data networks. The video compression process decreases the amount of data transmitted over the lines by transmitting only the changes in the picture. By minimizing the bandwidth required to transmit the images, video compression also reduces the transmission cost (Woodruff & Mosby, 1996.)

Interactive video courses are often transmitted on dedicated T-1 phone lines, which are high speed lines which are typically leased with an expensive monthly cost. The monthly charge is usually based on distance, not usage. Therefore, the cost effectiveness of IV systems increases with use. Interactive Video systems can operate at different data rates enabling multiple simultaneous video courses/conferences over the same T-1 circuit. An IV system can also share a T-1 circuit with other digital data uses such as Internet transmissions or file transfers (Woodruff & Mosby, 1996.)

Interactive video is commonly used to connect two locations using sophisticated computer technology. The core of IV is the codec (coder/decoder.) This electronic device transmits and receives the video signals that the class members will see on their television monitors (Galbreth, 1995.) Other types of equipment, such as television monitors, are needed to make IV successful. In addition, various forms of instructional technology can be incorporated into IV, including video cassette recorders/players, microphones, cameras, and computers (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.) Some systems, including the ones used at Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College, are also capable of simultaneously connecting more than two sites through the use of a multi-point control unit, or MCU (Woodruff. & Mosby, 1996.)

Advantages of Interactive Video

Interactive video is attractive to administrators for several reasons. IV provides access to education to those who live in remote locations and cannot travel to the university; it can provide access to at-risk or special needs students (Woodruff and Mosby, 1996); it enables large numbers of students to be taught simultaneously by one instructor; outside speakers can be involved who would not otherwise be available, and students can become linked with others from different communities, backgrounds and cultures (Willis, 1992.)

For the instructor, interactive video can be effective because it allows for "real time" or synchronous visual contact between students and the instructor or among students at different sites. Furthermore, it supports the use of diverse media (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.) Thus, many things common in the traditional classroom can be used in the interactive classroom, such as blackboards, documents, videos and transparencies.


As with any technology, interactive video is not without limitations. IV is expensive, especially the initial cost. Since it involves sophisticated technology there can be audio and visual difficulties, which cannot be resolved by the professor (Galbreth, 1995.) While compressed video holds great promise for expanding the classroom, it also amplifies poor teaching styles and strategies. Instructors must devote greater than normal effort toward preparation and development of instructional strategies that actively encourage learning. Instructors typically spend more time initially preparing for the interactive class, paying special attention to the development and production of visual material (Woodruff & Mosby, 1996.) Additionally, the instructor must be vigilant in making sure the students remain involved in the course, a task more difficult when classes are taught at a distance.

Frequently instructors are given insufficient time and resources in which to prepare for the course and insufficient compensation for the development and delivery of the course. The planning process and learning curve may seem excessive at first, but the shift from "knowledge disseminator" to "learning facilitator" is likely to enhance learning for both local and remote students (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.)

Instructional Strategies

Classroom teachers employ a number of strategies when working with students in the traditional classroom, for example the instructor, watching facial expressions and body language, can determine who is bored, tired, disinterested, confused or thinking through an idea (Willis, 1993.) The effective teacher constantly monitors these cues and makes adjustments or stores the information for later use. The distance educator is not that fortunate. The cues that do exist are filtered through the technological devices being used. Although the student can be seen, many of the facial expressions are missed, thus opportunities to make adjustments. The absence of this connection can make it difficult to establish rapport. Separation by distance can also impair the rapport between the students at different sites (Willis, 1993.)

According to Willis (1993), effective teaching at a distance is "more the result of preparation than innovation." The development or adaption of distance instruction uses the core content of the class which remains unchanged. The presentation of that material becomes the focus of planning (Willis, 1993.)

Since distance education via interactive video is a relatively new phenomenon, instructors have been forced to adapt quickly to the technology and instructional changes. A secondary concern for many has been considering personal-instructional strategies for effective teaching and presentation. Although relatively sparse, literature is now appearing which address this issue for instructors. Following are suggestions from several distance educators which can guide and provide assistance to the novice distance instructor.

. . . and in the beginning, there was: Planning

When creating a lesson for two-way video, it's important to plan using the strategies listed below.

Reed and Woodruff (1996) offers the following matrix for planning:

Learner Outcomes
What do you expect your learners to accomplish?
Methods and Activities
How will you convey the topic (lecture, discussion, hands-on activity?)
What audio/visual aids, handouts, etc. will you use to support your instruction?
About how much time will it take?
Do you need to show an instructional "slate" with the document camera or play an audio clip?
Equipment Cues
Do you need to prepare a visual or get handouts to remote learners? 

After you have completed your lesson plan, review it with the following questions in mind (Reed & Woodruff, 1996):

How much total time is spent in lectures? (Keep it less than 50%--30%.)
How much time is spent at lecturing at any given time? (Keep it less than 20 minutes.)
Are breaks included?
Can a remote facilitator or guest lecturer facilitate part of the lesson?
Is rapport established with remote learners?
Do learners know what to expect?
Can any of the lesson be done prior to the video connection (via print, E-mail, World Wide Web, or with the remote facilitator?)
What support is needed to make the lesson a success?
Is evaluation time needed?

Prior to the first class . . .

Before developing something new, check and review existing materials for content and presentation ideas (Willis, 1992.) There are several sites on the Internet which provide sample lesson plans for teaching social work courses, for example this site maintained by the University of Texas: http://www.utexas.edu/world/lecture/

Realistically assess the amount of content that can be effectively delivered in the course . Because of the logistics involved, presenting content at a distance is usually more time consuming than presenting the same content in a traditional classroom setting (Willis, 1992.)

Find out if the budget allows you to teach one class from each site . Typically, the earlier in the course the visit occurs, the better (Willis, 1993.)

Develop strategies for student reinforcement, review, repetition, and remediation (Willis, 1995.)

Consider providing a strong print component to supplement non-print materials (Reed & Woodruff, 1996) (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various delivery systems available to you, audio, video, data and print (University of Idaho, 1996.)

If course materials are sent by mail, make sure they are received well before class begins. To help students stay organized, consider binding the syllabus, handouts, and other readings prior to distribution (University of Idaho, 1996.)

When preparing transparencies or visual aids, pay attention to the screens' ratio. A TV monitor has a different shape than paper or overhead projectors, so make sure that the visuals fit within a 3 X 4 ratio (see Appendix A & B, pages 29, 30.) Also, small fonts and light colors do not show up well over monitors. For this reason green and blue are frequently used. Sometimes traditional transparencies reflect light and can create a glare. When the material is placed on paper, the glare is gone.

Use large, bold fonts for instructional "slates." Remote viewers will thank you if they don't have to squint to see text. They'll also appreciate simple fonts and concise, bulleted information (Reed & Woodruff, 1996) (Tallahassee Community College, 1996) (Illinois State University, 1996.)

Use colors in the middle of the color spectrum. Black on white does not look good on a screen. Yellow on blue is common because it presents a clear readable image. For most people, color printing is not feasible, so black on pastel paper should be adequate. For "on-the-fly writing," use a bold color ink pen on pastel paper (Reed & Woodruff, 1996) (Tallahassee Community College, 1996.)

Use video carefully. Many IV systems allow transmission of video from an auxiliary source such as a VCR or camcorder, but transmitted video is likely to appear jerky or fuzzy to remote viewers. In general, it's best to keep video segments brief. To show a lengthy segment, send a videotape to the remote facilitator (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.)

Obtain written authorization before you use copyrighted materials. Use of copyrighted material in a distance learning situation requires permission. So obtain clearance before broadcasting audiovisuals (Reed & Woodruff, 1996) (Tallahassee Community College, 1996.)

Photos and color graphics look great on video and can help convey a difficult concept or simple instructions (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996) (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.)

Indicate objectives at the beginning of class and close with a summary of the class (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.) This can be done as an interactive exercise.

Include an evaluation component at mid term with questions regarding the technology as well as the content and instruction (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

Have a back up plan if the technology fails (Willis, 1992) (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996) (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.) With new equipment technological problems are common.

You will want to decide how to handle student questions. Video conferencing etiquette must be established by the users. Most people do not have experience with interactive video. Students are not accustomed to talking to a television image and two-way etiquette has yet to be refined (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.) Imagine yourself in the middle of an important explanation and some remote viewer breaks into the conversation, interrupting and ignoring you. In the traditional class room this would be considered rude. If you simply tell students to ask questions whenever they want to, you run the risk of never getting any questions (Willis, 1993.) If you have more than two sites involved, letting students interrupt when they want to could result in two sites trying to talk at the same time, privacy buttons being left open, on site dominating or just chaos. You may want to ask students to hold, or even write down questions as they think of them , then pause after each segment of your lesson to poll each site individually and prompt for questions. Since most systems are voice-activated, you can only see one site (besides your own) at a time. If you are in a multi-point conference, you may have to ask a site to talk in order to see them (Reed & Woodruff, 1996.) An example might sound like this:

"At this point, let me stop for questions.

City/site name, please say a few words so I can see you."

Do you have any questions regarding _____________?"

Another example might be as follows:

"Let's pause for a moment for questions. Look over notes at the questions you've jotted down. Joan in Pensacola, what have you written?" (She may have nothing, but if you continue to ask in this fashion, students will get the idea that you really give them the opportunity to question you.) If you let students ask questions at any time, have them identify their name and site when interrupting (it takes a few seconds of speaking to activate a change in video; this way no one misses part of the question and people can see who is asking (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

The First Class

Remind students that audio delays of one to two seconds are common due to the way that audio and video are compressed. The novice instructor will experience awkward "go ahead" conversations due to the delay. Since there is no way to prevent this try to finish thoughts in a single statement with an obvious conclusion. Listeners should avoid interrupting and use visual cues (like nodding) instead of verbal affirmations (like "uh huh.") (Reed and Woodruff, 1996.)

The instructor should remember to maintain the focus on all the students , not just the students at the "home" site. Think of the camera as another student, look directly into it on occasion, don't avoid it (Tallahassee Community College, 1996) (Willis, 1993.) Humanize the course by focusing on the students, not the delivery system.

At the start of the class set rules, guidelines, and standards. Once these have been established, consistently uphold them (Willis, 1992 )(Reed and Woodruff, 1996.)

Make students comfortable with the new pattern of communication. Learn about the students' backgrounds and experiences and discuss the instructor's. Remind the students that they are taking an active role in the distance project and must take responsibility for their learning (Willis, 1993.)

Reduce distractions -- both within the class and on the screen. Since variety is so engaging, reduce the potential distraction of the screen by posting a still image or slate during a class activity. Don't be afraid to use silence ( Reed and Woodruff, 1996.)

Prepare a seating chart to help identify students by name at each site.

Variety and Interaction

Instructor to Group/Class/Site

Lessons should incorporate a variety of activities for all students at the various sites. Guest speakers, group activities, student presentations and occasional breaks can all add variety to lengthy classes (more than one hour.) According to Reed and Woodruff (1996), as a rule of thumb, instructors should change instructional methods every 10-15 minutes, and limit lectures to 20 minutes (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996) (University of Idaho, 1996) (Willis, 1994.) Switching from lecture to question-answer to small group activity can keep students alert. Guest speakers at remote sites can allow the students in the home class to experience what it is like to have the teacher at another site. This has the added advantage of encouraging participation of those remote students. To encourage students to participate consider incentives, e.g., extra credit for active participation (Tallahassee Community College, 1996.) Variety of visuals can also help to maintain student interest (Reed and Woodruff, 1995) (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

Motivate peer learning, support, and collaboration by having students' work together both in and out of class (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.) Students can interact with you and their classmates using electronic mail. Maintaining and sharing electronic mail entries can address this issue (Laurillard, 1995) (Willis, 1994.)

On-site facilitators can stimulate interaction when distance students are hesitant to ask questions and participate. In addition, the onsite facilitator can act as your eyes and ears. (Willis, 1994.)

Call on individual students to ensure that all participants have ample opportunity to participate. At the same time politely and firmly discourage students from monopolizing class time (Laurillard, 1995) (Willis, 1994.)

Use pre-class study questions and advance organizers to encourage critical thinking and informed participation on the part of the learners (Willis, 1994.)

Use names when calling on people at remote sites , use seating charts to facilitate this (Laurillard, 1995) (Willis, 1994.)

Begin question/answer segments with questions at the recall or understanding level that can be answered easily (Willis, 1994.)

Don't wait for volunteers. Call on specific sites' and/or people to answer questions (Laurillard, 1995) (Willis, 1994.)

Ask other students to answer peer questions before hurrying to answer yourself (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

Instructor/Student Dialogue and Interaction

Integrate a variety of systems for feedback , including one-on-one calls, fax, electronic E-mail and computer conferencing. Have telephone and electronic mail office hours (Willis, 1994.)

Contact each site or student every week if possible , especially early in the course. Take note of students who don't participate during the first session, and contact them individually after class (Laurillard, 1995) (Willis, 1994.)

Make detailed comments on written assignments , referring to additional sources for supplementary information. Return assignments without a delay, using fax or electronic mail, when practical (Laurillard, 1995) (Willis, 1994.)

Presentation Style

Don't wear white, black, very light pastels, busy or shiny patterns. Solids work best (Laurillard, 1995) (Tallahassee Community College, 1996.)

If your style is to move around, talk with the technical support staff. In general sudden movements in any direction are visually distracting and should be avoided (Laurillard, 1995) (Tallahassee Community College, 1996.)

Keep the structure simple and use outlines to let the students know where you are Use short clear concise statements realizing there will be a lag before the audio reaches the site, and vice versa (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

Never read material out loud (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

Maintain a moderate speaking pace but vary the tone and pitch for emphasis and variety (Georgia State Academic and Medical System, 1996.)

Telelearning Checklist

The following is a portion of a checklist, developed by Reed & Woodruff (1995), for instructors to use in planning for their class/course. This portion of the checklist assumes that there is technical support on hand to assist with most of the technical functions, such as room arrangement, camera positioning, linking to the sites and rebooting the system if necessary.

Date of Conference/Class: _______________ Time: _______________
Purpose: _______________
Far End: ___________________ ISDN numbers
Near End: _________________ ISDN numbers
Telephone number:
Technical contact:

Well in advance:
_____ practice using equipment
_____ prepare a lesson plan and materials and obtain copyright clearance if necessary
_____ develop a back-plan in case of technical problems

One week prior to start of the course:

_____ share your expectations with participants
_____ make sure the remote site has necessary materials
_____ find out who to contact if there are problems
_____ practice with remote facilitators
_____ decide what to wear (avoid loud patterns, red, white and black)

Evaluation of teachers and students

Effective teachers in the traditional classroom use many techniques to assess successful learning, formal and informal. Informal evaluations in the distance learning class are more difficult because face to face interaction and assessment of verbal and nonverbal communication is no longer possible. The instructor, however will want to know a variety of things, such as is the student comfortable with the delivery system used, the appropriateness of class assignments, the clarity of the course content, if class time is spent well, if teaching was effective and how to improve the course. In order to ascertain this information, the instructor may use formative and/or summative evaluations (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Formative evaluations should be conducted throughout the course. Strategies for conducting the evaluations include providing pre-stamped, self-addressed post cards and asking the students to send one each week with their thoughts, concerns and problems, using electronic mail and having electronic mail office hours, using the telephone and having telephone office hours (although you should welcome call at other times) (University of Idaho, 1996.) It is important to ask open-ended questions followed by probing questions. The instructor should be open to suggestions and encourage feedback. Formative evaluations can begin with the first lesson (University of Idaho, 1996.) When the lesson is over, review it to help make future adjustments which will make the telelearning experience more effective. Consider video taping the session and viewing it later, or jot down some notes when the session is completed. Here are some questions to ask yourself (University of Idaho, 1996):

What were the intended outcomes of the lesson? Were they achieved?
Were expectations clear prior to the lesson?
Was the lesson technically effective?
What did you like/dislike about technology?
What would have improved the lesson?
What should be done differently next time?
How did the experience compare to a more typical classroom experience
(University of Idaho, 1996?)

Summative evaluations occur at the end of the course and assess the overall effectiveness of the finished class. They can act as a spring board in developing a revision plan and provide a base line for designing a new course. Unfortunately, since summative evaluations occur at the end of the class, they won't help current students. Possible questions may include: What are the weaknesses of the course and strengths? If you were teaching this course what would you do differently? Would you recommend this class to a friend? What did you think would be covered but was not? Also, gather background information about the students such as age, grade, number of distance learning courses previously taken and prior technological experience (University of Idaho, 1996.)

The distance learning network is designed to allow standard testing and student evaluations. Each site should have a facilitator to process exams and distribute and collect assignments from students. When administering an examination during a class period, the instructor should remain available for the questions from students in both on- and off-campus sites. Take-home exams may require additional telephone office hours so students may contact the instructor with questions (Illinois State University, 1996.)

Quantitative vs. Qualitative

Quantitative analysis requires that questions be asked in a way which can statistically be tabulated and analyzed. The individual who responds is limited to preset categories of answers. Quantitative analysis provides many benefits but most courses will have too few students to justify the use of quantitative statistics. Additionally, the classroom population would be stratified further rendering quantitative analysis impotent. Too often there is an over reliance on the results which give the illusion of precision but may be far from reality (University of Idaho, 1996.)
Qualitative analysis allows for a range and depth of responses and tends to be more subjective. Qualitative analysis is more flexible and dynamic and not limited to preset questions or categories. The instructor can use a variety of techniques to gather data: participant-observation, nonparticipant observation, open-ended questions and answers, content analysis and interviewing either one- on- one or one on small groups (University of Idaho, 1996.)

What to evaluate

Following are some areas the distance learning instructor may want to evaluate (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Use of technology-- how comfortable was the student with the technology--what were the concerns and/or problems--what were the positive aspects and attitudes about the technology?
Class formats -- how effective was the lecture, discussion, questions and answers?
Class atmosphere-- was it conducive to student learning?
What was the quality and quantity of the interaction with other students?
Course content--was it relevant--was there an adequate body of knowledge and was it organized in a way that enhanced student learning?
Assignments-- were they useful, what was the percentage of difficulty and time, timeliness of feedback, what was the readability of printed material?
Tests--frequency, relevance, was there sufficient review, level of difficulty and timely feedback
Support Services--facilitator, technology, library resources, instructor availability
Student achievement--adequacy, appropriateness, timeliness, and student involvement
Student attitudes--attention, class participation, assignments completed sufficiently
Instructor--contribution of instructor and discussion leaders, effectiveness, organization, preparation, enthusiasm, openness to student views

Evaluation Tips (University of Idaho, 1996)

Look for already published questionnaires and evaluations, once again don"t try re-inventing the wheel. Draft and revise questions, changing if necessary. Make use of follow-up probes.
Assure anonymity to students.
Establish rapport by being interested and supportive.
Withhold judgmental statements.
Adapt to students formality and pace of communication.
Use the evaluation as a way for understanding teaching and learning.
Try to get both positive and negative feedback.

Self-Evaluation of the Instructor

Self evaluation may be helpful to those who are new to teaching in a distance learning setting (Illinois State University, 1996.) Several techniques can be used for this purpose. Suggestions for improvement can be solicited from students and other instructors who have experience teaching in a distance learning network. Instructors may also want to videotape their presentations before actually teaching the first class. Colleagues can provide objective feedback. The technician can also provide good feedback (Illinois State University, 1996.)

Glossary of Terms

Since the terminology of the technology involved in IV is new to many instructors, a glossary of terms, prepared in part by the University of Idaho (1996), follows.

Analog: A signal that is received in the same form in which it is transmitted, while the amplitude and frequency may vary (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Amplitude: The amount of variety in a signal. Commonly thought of as the height of a wave.

American Standard Code for Information Interexchange (ASCII): A computer language used to convert letters, numbers, and control codes into a digital code understood by most computers (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Asynchronous: Communication in which interaction between parties does not take place simultaneously.

Asynchronous Transmission Mode (ATM): A method of sending data in irregular time intervals using a code such as ASCII. ATM allows most modern computers to communicate with one another easily (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Audio Bridge: A device used in audioconferencing that connects multiple telephone lines allowing for multiple teaching sites.

Audioconferencing: Voice only connection of more than two sites using standard telephone lines.

Backbone: A primary communication path connecting multiple users.

Band: A range of frequencies between defined upper and lower limits.

Bandwidth: Information carrying capacity of a communication channel.

Binary: A computer language developed with only two letters in its alphabet.

Bit: Abbreviation for a single binary digit.

Byte: A single computer word, generally eight bits.

Browser: Software that allows you to find and see information on the Internet, such as Web Crawler and Excite.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): The component of a computer in which data processing takes place.

Channel: The smallest subdivision of a circuit, usually with a path in only one direction.

Codec (coder/decoder): Device used to convert analog signals to digital signals for transmission and reconvert signals upon reception at the remote site while allowing for the signal to be compressed for less expensive transmission (University of Idaho, 1996.)

Compressed Video: When video signals are reduced to allow travel along a smaller carrier.

Compression: Reducing the amount of visual information sent in a signal by only transmitting changes in action.

Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI): Teaching process in which a computer is utilized to enhance the learning environment by assisting students in gaining mastery over a specific skill.
Cyberspace: The nebulous "place" where humans interact over computer networks. Coined by William Gibson.

Desktop Videoconferencing: Videoconferencing on a personal computer.

Dial-Up Teleconference: Using public telephone lines for communications links among various locations.

Digital: An electrical signal that varies in discrete steps in voltage, frequency, amplitude, locations, etc. Digital signals can be transmitted faster and more accurately than analog signals.

Digital Video Interactive (DVI): A format for recording digital video onto compact disc allowing for compression and full motion video.

Distance Education: Distance education takes place when a teacher and student(s) are separated by physical distance and technology (i.e., audio, video, data, and print), often in combination with face-to-face communication, is used to bridge the gap (Willis, 1994.)

Distance Learning: The desired outcome of distance education.

Download: Using the network to transfer files from one computer to another.

Echo Cancellation: The process of eliminating the acoustic echo in a videoconferencing room.

Electronic Mail (E-mail): Sending messages from one computer user to another.

Facsimile (FAX): System used to transmit textual or graphical images over standard telephone lines.

Fiber Optic Cable: Glass fiber that is used for laser transmission of video, audio, and/or data.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP): A protocol that allows you to move files from a distant computer to a local computer using a network like the Internet.

Frequency: The space between waves in a signal. The amount of time between waves passing a stationary point.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): A collection of information on the basics of any given subject, often used on the WWW.

Full Motion Video: Signal which allows transmission of complete action taking place at the origination site.

Fully Interactive Video: (Two way interactive video) Two sites interact with audio and video as if they were co-located.

Home Page: A document with an address (URL) on the world wide web maintained by a person or organization which contains pointers to other pieces of information.

Host: A network computer that can receive information from other computers.

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML): The code used to create a home page and is used to access documents over the WWW.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): The protocol used to signify an Internet site is a WWW site, i.e. HTTP is a WWW address.

Hypertext: A document which has been marked up to allow a user to select words or pictures within the document, click on them, and connect to further information.

Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS): Microwave-based, high-frequency television used in educational program delivery.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN): A telecommunications standard allowing communications channels to carry voice, video, and data simultaneously.

Internet: An international network of networks primarily used to connect education and research networks begun by the United States government. Internet Protocol (IP): The international standard for addressing and sending data via the Internet.

Listserve: An e-mail program that allows multiple computer users to connect onto a single system, creating an on-line discussion.

Local Area Network (LAN): Two or more local computers that are physically connected.

Microwave: Electromagnetic waves that travel in a straight line and are used to and from satellites and for short distances (i.e., up to 30 miles).

Modem: A piece of equipment to allow computers to interact with each other via telephone lines by converting digital signals to analog for transmission along analog lines.

Mosaic: An example of browser software that allows WWW use.

Multimedia: Any document which uses multiple forms of communication, such as text, audio, and/or video.

Multi-Point Control Unit (MCU): Computerized switching system which allows point-to-multi point videoconferencing.

Netscape: An example of browser software that allows you to design a home page and to browse links on the WWW.

Network: A series of points connected by communication channels in different locations.

On-Line: Active and prepared for operation. Also suggests access to a computer network.

Origination Site: The location from which a teleconference originates.

Point of Presence (POP): Point of connection between an interexchange carrier and a local carrier to pass communications into the network.

Point-to-Point: Transmission between two locations.

Point-to-Multi point: Transmission between multiple locations using a bridge.

PPP: A software package which allows a user to have a direct connection to the Internet over a telephone line.

Protocol: A formal set of standards, rules, or formats for exchanging data that assures uniformity between computers and applications.

Satellite TV: Video and audio signals are relayed via a communication device that orbits around the earth.

Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP): Allows a user to connect to the Internet directly over a high speed modem.
Server: A computer with a special service function on a network, generally receiving and connecting incoming information traffic.

Slow Scan Converter: Transmitter/receiver of still video over narrow band channels. In real time, camera subjects must remain still for highest resolution.

Synchronous: Communication in which interaction between participants is simultaneous.

T-1 (DS-1): High speed digital data channel that is a high volume carrier of voice and/or data. Often used for compressed video teleconferencing. T-1 has 24 voice channels. (1.54 mg)

T-3 (DS-3): A digital channel which communicates at a significantly faster rate (three times) than T-1.

Telecommunication: The science of information transport using wire, radio, optical, or electromagnetic channels to transmit receive signals for voice or data communications using electrical means.

Teleconferencing: Two way electronic communication between two or more groups in separate locations via audio, video, and/or computer systems.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): A protocol which makes sure that packets of data are shipped and received in the intended order.

Transponder: Satellite transmitter and receiver that receives and amplifies a signal prior to re-transmission to an earth station.

Video Teleconferencing: A teleconference including two way video.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The address of a homepage on the WWW.

Uplink: The communication link from the transmitting earth station to the satellite.

World Wide Web (WWW): A graphical hypertext-based Internet tool that provides access to homepages created by individuals, businesses, and other organizations.


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Copyright 1998, M. Jayne Brady


Revised February 19, 2006
Copyright Judith V. Boettcher, 1997-2010