Better Than Being There?

Lectures on Demand in Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) methodology for online classes have been implemented by researchers at the LIST lab. These lectures capture the essence of a traditional classroom experience. In this approach, archived streaming video and audio are synchronized with class materials such as PowerPoint slides and other web-based resources, and student-student and student-instructor interactions are facilitated by the underlying ALN. This creates an effective learning environment which raises the question “Is it better than being there?” In our papers, we describe the tools used in creating the Lectures on Demand in an ALN environment and discuss the incorporation of active and collaborative learning components by the inclusion of online laboratories and simulations, which would lead to an even richer environment for virtual online classes.
"Sample online class"
ALN structure has the potential to add other dimensions of teaching and learning, such as the incorporation of a virtual online laboratory. This interactive web-based learning environment would present students with a variety of educational experiences that could only have been obtained by physically participating in an experiment in a lab. Thus, the asynchronous Lectures-on-Demand learning method is being extended to incorporate online interactive simulations and virtual experimentation with real equipment (See Fig. 2). For example, by doing a simulation using a mathematical model of a robotic arm or an inverted pendulum, a student can first obtain some theoretical results. Then, the student would be offered an opportunity to directly control the real equipment via the Internet, and to obtain a sense of virtual presence from the real-time feedback from video and audio.
Fig. 2. Virtual Laboratory  
Other Resources
[2.] Gillet, D., H. A. Latchman, Ch. Salzmann, and O. D. Crisalle, "Hands-On Laboratory Experiments in Flexible and Distance Learning", Journal of Engineering Education, pp. 187-191, April 2001.
[3.] Latchman, Haniph A., Wichai Suharitdamrong and Baowei Ji, “Online Virtual Classes: Better Than Being There?”, Proceeding 2002 IEEE ITHET, pp 250-255, Budapest, Hungary, August 2002.
[4.] Latchman, Haniph A., and S. M. Latchman, “Lectures on Demand in ALN: Enhancing the Online Learning Experience”, JALN Vol. 5, Issue 1, 2001, pp. 85-98