The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering offers a variety of resources to assist students in achieving their engineering education goals. From web-assisted instruction, to interactive television, to asynchronous course delivery, to web-delivered graduate instruction, the college provides numerous alternatives to traditional classroom delivery methods.
Here are a few relevant terms you might want to know:
Distance Learning – This is a generic term used to describe instructional services where all participants are not in the same physical location and/or active at the same time. At the college, we frequently use “Distance Learning” as a specific term to label our remote-class synchronous delivery offerings and related activities.
ITV (Instructional or Interactive Television) – This is a generic term used to describe course offerings that include content delivery to some students via “television” of some form. Typically, at the college, “ITV” is a synonym for “Distance Learning” – they are frequently used interchangeably.
Synchronous Delivery – This is a method of instructional delivery where the instructor teaches students “live” in different locations. At the college, a typical example is a lecture that originates in our Tallahassee classrooms, but with students participating from the FSU Panama City, FL, campus. In this model, remote students can participate in the class in essentially the same ways as local students.
Asynchronous Delivery – This is a method of instructional delivery where the instructor records content for viewing at a later time, i.e., students watch the recorded lecture AFTER the fact. In our Tallahassee classrooms, we often record lectures to provide an opportunity for students to watch later.
Online Learning – This is a generic term used to describe instructional services that are primarily delivered via the Internet. At the college, we use this term to describe courses that are designed (and approved) for largely asynchronous delivery, using short instructional modules that may incorporate a variety of documents, short video presentations, etc.
Hybrid Instruction – This denotes instruction where there are students both in the classroom with the instructor and participating online. It is a synchronous delivery method.
Remote Instruction – This denotes instruction where students are not in a physical classroom with the instructor, but are all participating online. It is a synchronous delivery method.
FEEDS – This is an acronym for “Florida Engineering Education Delivery System,” which was a precursor to current Distance Learning programs. FEEDS was originally established by the Florida Legislature to deliver graduate engineering education across the state. While the FEEDS program is no longer in place, many still use the term "FEEDS" today to refer to Distance Learning courses and facilities.
Zoom – This communications (conference bridge) tool is used for remote classes and meetings. All of the college's regular classrooms are equipped to support remote sessions via Zoom.
History and Future of Distance Learning at the College
Distance Learning, involving both synchronous and asynchronous delivery of classes, has long been provided by the college.
Early Distance Learning was asynchronous -- lectures were recorded on video tape, which could be delivered via mail or courier to other locations for later playback. Later, real-time remote connections were available in some cases, using dedicated circuits (expensive and slow) to provide limited synchronous remote instruction.
Later, Distance Learning became primarily Internet-based, allowing students to interact live with the instructor from other locations across the Internet. For a number of years, these interactions were supported with video conferencing hardware that implements the H.323 interconnection standard with some form of the H.264 video codec. These solutions work very well, but do require “matching” (and expensive) endpoints, which limits the facilities and devices that can be used for the purpose.
Today, most remote instruction is supported by conferencing bridge services, where a variety of endpoints can connect to each other, especially for meetings and special events. Services such as Zoom (and others) allow disparate endpoints to join on a call; this eliminate sthe need for the expensive endpoint systems for synchronous delivery.
Moving into the future, we expect Online Learning offerings will grow, as the college seeks to provide fully-online degree and certificate programs to students wherever they may be. In this way, we will make greater use of asynchronous delivery again to address a wider audience.
Our Distance Learning Facilities
As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Engineering equipped ALL of our classrooms with cameras and added support for Zoom. This allows any instructor to use any classroom for hybrid (or remote) instruction
In addition, the college operates two "fully-functioned" Distance Learning Studio Classrooms, A305 (seats 27) and A317 (seats 64). These two enhanced classrooms, which share a control room, provide a wide range of capabilities for synchronous and asynchronous instruction, including microphones for instructors and students, and additional displays to show remote participants as well as lesson content.
Some conference rooms at the College have video conferencing systems installed, and all have Zoom support. Thus, these rooms can be used for small-group Distance Learning activities. And, conference bridge services can be used almost anywhere (assuming the availability of appropriate cameras/microphones for the location and number of participants).
Contact CCS for information about the capabilities in specific rooms or to make arrangements for specific events.
Scheduling Conferencing and Distance Learning Facilities
Regular classrooms are generally scheduled by Student Services. The technology for holding Zoom meetings is in place and can be operated by anyone with typical college computing credentials, so it is generally not necessary to involve CCS. However, if there are any questions about how to use the room, or any special needs, CCS is available to assist (with advance notice).
The college’s Distance Learning Studio Classrooms (A305 and A317) are scheduled by College Computing Services. CCS handles this scheduling since use of these rooms requires appropriate attention to the configuration and operation of the special technology present (often including the assignment of an operator).
College conference rooms (A115, B202, B202B) are scheduled by the Dean's Office (and others), except for A329, which is scheduled by CCS. When scheduling a conference room for an event where technology will be used, it is highly recommended to contact CCS to review the needs and assure that the chosen room will meet those needs.
Learning Management System (Canvas)
Important to the success of all courses, but especially Distance Learning courses, is the Learning Management System. Students access course information, participate in online discussions with their professor and classmates, obtain homework assignments and self-assessment quizzes, as well as track their academic schedule and grades, for most courses at the college, via the Canvas Learning Management System.
Sessions recorded in Zoom, and lectures recorded in our Distance Learning facilities, are generally uploaded into the appropriate Canvas course, so that students enrolled in the course may view the recording (assuming the instructor chooses to make it available). This process includes the addition of captions (however, note that captions will not be “perfect” and should be reviewed by the instructor).