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Is Student Collocation a Factor in Synchronous Distance Education?

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Locatis CN, Berner E, Matthews P, Hammack G, Smith S, Maisiak R
International Assoc of Medical Science Educators Annual Meeting; 2008 Jul 25-29; Salt Lake City.
Abstract: 

PURPOSE: Studies have shown that students like the convenience and flexibility of asynchronous distance learning, but prefer interacting in classrooms. Internet bandwidth has grown so that it is possible to offer classes at a distance with real time interaction by videoconference, usually to students meeting in groups. The advent of desktop and laptop videoconferencing tools and the growth of broadband to offices and homes make it increasingly feasible to provide distant learning classes by videoconferences in virtual venues where students are not physically collocated. This research investigated whether medical students learned differently and had different attitudes toward instruction and technology in conditions where they were collocated and where they were not.

METHODS: Students in the collocated condition met in a computer lab and communicated with the distant instructor by videoconference and each other face to face. Those in the dispersed condition were located in separate offices and interacted with the instructor and each other entirely by videoconference. In both conditions, students listened to a lecture on telemedicine, asked questions, and then completed exercises that they were asked to do collaboratively. Students were observed and subsequently tested on lecture content and asked to rate the instruction and technology.

RESULTS: There we no differences in outcome between the two groups, except for perceived interaction and the amount and pattern of interaction.

CONCLUSION: Students in the videoconferencing condition felt the learning experience was more interactive and they, indeed, experienced more and broader interaction because of the way the technology channeled communication.

Locatis CN, Berner E, Matthews P, Hammack G, Smith S, Maisiak R. Is Student Collocation a Factor in Synchronous Distance Education? International Assoc of Medical Science Educators Annual Meeting; 2008 Jul 25-29; Salt Lake City.