Tell me, I'll forget.
Show me, I'll remember.
Involve me, and I'll understand

If you are doing a live televised class, interaction is the real key to successful live distance learning. One goal is that at least 1/3 of the class time should be interactive. You don't have to abandon your normal teaching style, but you may have to modify it.

The technology may initially seem to be a barrier, but advance thought and careful planning can make televised instruction very effective.

If your regular classroom method is lecture, you may want to vary the pattern. Be aware of "television behavior." People may become passive in a television environment. Television viewing is usually entertaining, relaxing, and often is tuned out by the viewer. The success of your class will depend, to a large extent, on you and your interaction with participants.

You will need to make a special effort to include students at the distance sites in discussions. They should not be made to feel like stepchildren of the originating classroom. Use participants names frequently. The technology will support these interactions, but it will take your initiative to encourage and require interactions.

Interaction must be planned, otherwise it is easy to let the content drive the lecture and turn the instructor into a "talking head."

Techniques to help foster interaction include:

  • Determine a block of time for interaction and advise participants in advance when interaction is anticipated.
  • Integrate on-air interaction with assignments which have been prepared in advance.
  • Designate specific participants or sites to call in with responses, comments, or questions. An unstructured invitation to call in will not ensure a response.
  • Motivate interaction with intentional silence. Avoid "filling in time" with potentially distracting activities while waiting for distance student responses.
  • Vary the timing of interactive segments: prior to, during, and following information presentation. When time for questions, breaks, or interaction between participants and the instructor is not allowed, it may reinforce passive viewing (talking-head syndrome!).
  • Encourage participant-to-participant interaction and ensure opportunities for social affiliation. Ask an in-class participant or a participant from a different site to respond to statements by other participants.
  • Establish greeting protocols to facilitate social affiliation; for example, "Judy in Bainbridge, what do you think about Robert's comment on that issue?"
  • Establish the group norm that students identify themselves when they speak from either the originating or distance site (i.e. "This is Bill and I think...".) This will become second nature after a few responses.
  • Remember after you ask a question, or ask for a response -- wait. The silence seems long, awkward and uncomfortable -- but don't give into it. Wait patiently, smile, relax, and look as though you believe with all your heart someone is going to respond.