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 Distance Learning facilities, 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 Distance Learning facilities, 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.
FEEDS – This is an acronym for “Florida Engineering Education Delivery System,” which was the precursor to our modern Distance Learning program. 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.
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 largely 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).
Today, Distance Learning is primarily synchronous and Internet-based. Students can interact live with the instructor from other locations across the Internet. Frequently, these interactions are supported with video conferencing hardware that utilizes the Internet for transport, and 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.
We are now seeing greater use of conferencing bridge services, where a variety of endpoints can connect to each other, especially for meetings and special events. Services such as Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, and others, allow disparate endpoints to join on a call; this can potentially eliminate the 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 return to largely asynchronous delivery.
Our Distance Learning Facilities
Currently, 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 full capability for synchronous and asynchronous instruction, including microphones for instructors and students, and additional displays to show remote participants as well as lesson content.
In addition, the College can provide limited Distance Learning capabilities from other classrooms, with sufficient pre-arrangement.
Some conference rooms at the College have video conferencing systems installed, and these 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).
Scheduling Distance Learning Facilities
The college’s Distance Learning Studio Classrooms are scheduled by College Computing Services (unlike regular classrooms). 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).
To schedule our Distance Learning Studio Classrooms (A305 or A317):
- For individual meetings or special events, please contact our Distance Learning Operations Specialist, Alex Fraden, at email@example.com or (850) 410-6446.
- For official class room assignments, please contact the CCS Director, Gary Eggebraaten, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 410-6334.
Learning Management System (Canvas)
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.
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. This process includes the addition of captions (however, note that captions will not be “perfect” and should be reviewed by the instructor).
For more information about Canvas, including details related to Distance Learning support, see our Canvas page, https://www.eng.famu.fsu.edu/ccs/engineering-accounts/learning-management-systems-information, or contact our LMS Support Specialist, Tamara Verheyen, at email@example.com or (850) 410-6642.
Questions about Distance Learning at the college? Contact College Computing Services.