ICTE Oslo 1997 will feature several special sessions and workshops on the Distributed Electronic Classroom.
A tool for open and distance learning, and for academic collaboration between university campuses, has been developed by the Center for Information Technology Studies at the University of Oslo. This system has been under development since 1990, and has been in use for full-semester lectures between Norwegian institutions of higher education since 1993.
Internet or ISDN based, the system allows a teacher to simultaneously interact with classes in several different or remote locations, using real-time audio and video and an electronic whiteboard that reproduces illustrations simultaneously at the various locations.
Students can interact by live audio and video with the teacher or lecturer by full-duplex (two-way) high quality audio and video transmission. The electronic whiteboard can be written on using a special pen, allowing an illustration to be displayed simultaneously at each classroom site. In addition, using the whiteboard, a teacher can bring up any page on the World Wide Web and annotate it.
The initial motivation for developing the Distributed Electronic Classroom was to support teaching collaboration at the higher education level for groups of students on different campuses. Students at different or remote campuses can participate in a class being taught at one campus.
Today, the system is being used in Norway in several additional ways:
|Teachers from two different institutions, by combining their expertise and sharing the teaching responsibilities, have created new courses which have been attended simultaneously by students from both institutions.|
|A participating university had a foreign guest lecturer for one semester. One of the guest's lecturer series was scheduled in the Distributed Electronic Classroom, and her course was attended by students from another Norwegian university.|
|Oral examinations have been conducted through the Distributed Electronic Classroom system with resulting savings in both cost and time for participants who did not have to travel to the central examining location.|
|The system is used for seminars and for traditional meetings, enabling greater participation from the involved institutions, and allowing more flexibility in meeting schedules and notices of meetings since travel to a central location is not a factor.|
Other uses that are being made of the Distributed Electronic Classroom include video conferencing, software demonstrations, and video presentations -- all with other sites participating as appropriate.
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