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Asynchronous Streaming Video from the Classroom to the Remote ...

  1. 1. Asynchronous Streaming Video from the Classroom to the Remote Student’s Desktop: Report of a Distributed Education Project Eric Flower University of Hawai‗i-West O‗ahu, USA Stacey Sawa University of Hawai‗i-West O‗ahu, USA Abstract: For three semesters we used streaming video software from to broadcast classroom activities asynchronously over the Internet to students in their homes or offices. We did not broadcast to computer labs or to specially built studios where groups of students would gather in a single location as in a site-to-site model, but rather, directly to the remote student‘s desktop. We found classroom-based asynchronous streaming video to be an inexpensive yet effective distributed education technology. This paper describes preliminary findings relating to student achievement (classroom vs. asynchronous viewing) as well as some secondary benefits derived from asynchronous streaming video. Introduction Building on the work of Hecht (1999) and Childers, Rizzo, and Bangert (1999) as reported at AACE‘s WebNet 99─World Conference on the WWW and Internet, we designed and built a low-cost synchronous classroom-based streaming video system based on off-the-shelf components and software from in the fall of 2000. The system was not used to broadcast point-to-point to studios or computer labs set up only for that purpose. Rather, we were able to broadcast classroom activities live to students at any location with an Internet connection. The video was broadcast at rates suitable for dialup modems on up to 350Kbps for those with DSL, cable modem, or office LAN connections. Remote students interacted with those of us in the classroom through a simultaneous chat session. That system worked remarkably well and we used it from 2001 to 2004 and reported on it at E-Learn 2005. In that paper we addressed issues of classroom management, creating streaming video in the classroom, production follow- up activities, potential pitfalls, operating costs, mobility of the streaming video system, and student achievement. An analysis of the course grade scores for each group (classroom vs. synchronous streaming online) showed a strong similarity of the means. Using the t-test for unequal variances, the p-value was 0.84. This provided a strong statistical conclusion that the means were not different; synchronous streaming video appeared to have been as effective as the traditional classroom in that instance (Flower and Sawa, 2005). More information may be found at Students in the synchronous classes reported anecdotally that they thought the system would work just as well asynchronously. This paper builds on a preliminary report of our asynchronous findings (Sawa and Flower, 2006) and covers three classes taught during the spring semesters of 2005, 2006, and 2007. The goal of this study was to compare the outcomes of students in a traditional classroom setting to those in an online asynchronous streaming video course environment in an effort to address quality concerns frequently associated with distributed learning and innovative uses of technology. Literature Review We found literature in two fields—streaming video and assessment of distributed education programs—to be of value in this study. Work by Jackson (2001) on developing web-based courses as well as that of Fritz (1999) and Hanss (2001) on digital video delivery were especially valuable. Cofield (2003) noted how little material existed on -- 372 --
  2. 2. student achievement with this technology when he wrote, ―The literature is sparse on studies related to streaming video and instruction.‖ In 2003 the state of steaming video, whether synchronous or asynchronous, could be summarized by noting that, ―These case studies collectively ‗paint a picture‘ of tentative experimentation with streaming video by enthusiastic individuals without the broadly based institutional integration typical of more established learning resources.‖ (Shephard, 2003). More recently it has been noted that video streaming appears to offer a range of benefits but that merely making streams available and directing students to them, does not necessarily result in quality, or indeed any, learning (Fill and Ottewill, 2006). Any innovation is expected to continue to provide quality instruction to students. If distance learning programs are to become accepted as a viable means of instruction, and, as an equivalent means of instruction, it is important to demonstrate the effectiveness and the quality of that instruction through research (Discenza, Howard, & Schenk, 2002). Typically, past studies measured the effectiveness of online courses through grades, learner satisfaction, or both. Biner, Dean, and Mellinger (1994) stated that student satisfaction is an important criterion in judging the effectiveness or success of a tele-education course. Rivera, McAlister, and Rice (n.d.), however, found that while the students in their study showed no significant differences in grades, students in the online section of the course were less satisfied than those in the traditional course. Such contradictory results demonstrate that there is not yet any consistent evidence available to show whether student satisfaction is an essential factor in determining whether or not there is a significant difference between online and traditional courses. Further support for these findings may be found in Shachar and Neumann‘s (2003) meta-analysis results of 86 experimental and quasi-experimental studies. Shachar and Neumann‘s results show a strong positive trend indicating that distance education is an effective form of instruction. Their analysis also demonstrated that students engaged in distance education outperformed their face- to-face counterparts in two thirds of the cases. Purpose The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether or not there is a significant difference in student achievement due to the principal delivery method of instruction when all students have equal access to class content. This study was completed using a quasi-experimental design with the control group being the participants enrolled in a traditional college course located on a university campus while the treatment group consisted of participants enrolled in the asynchronous streaming video distance learning section of the same course. It was hypothesized that the results of this study would show no significant difference among the student grades of the control and treatment group, or that the treatment group would outperform the control group. Sample Population The sample population for this study consisted of students enrolled in a course that is designed to teach computer skills to future business and public administrators. (See the course web site at Students were college juniors or seniors. There were 27 students in the control group and 29 students in the treatment group. Study Setting ―Computer Skills for Administrators‖ is an elective course with no prerequisites offered to students in the Professional Studies Division (Business Administration and Public Administration). By the end of the course, students are expected to:  Understand the legal and ethical implications of managing e-mail systems and World Wide Web access in business and government agencies  Evaluate web sites for content and presentation  Create documents, workbooks, and presentations with Microsoft Office and use object linking and -- 373 --
  3. 3. embedding (OLE) to integrate data from different applications  Make presentations to groups  Understand basic problems associated with database creation and management  Write specifications for personal computer purchases  Write basic specifications for a local area network  Understand basic problems associated with data security  Understand how an information system can promote corporate or institutional missions  Use the System Development Life Cycle for systems analysis and design  Work with students (and fellow employees in the future) in a virtual electronic environment  Use Tuckman‘s Group Development Model to create a productive team from a group of diverse individuals  Find information on their own as operating systems, applications, and help delivery systems change  Make an informed forecast of future computing developments The course is competency based. Students are evaluated as outlined below:  Testing of competencies throughout the semester: 45%  Final exam: 20%  Class participation/Quality Circle participation: 10%  Group presentation and contribution: 15%  Critical review of Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century by Michio Kaku, Anchor Books, 1997 (ISBN 0-385-48498-4): 10% Method Procedure The class had face-to-face and distance education sections and ran during the spring 2005, 2006, and 2007 semesters. The in-class students met twice a week from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. During the course of this study, the lectures given to the control group (classroom face-to-face students) were recorded and then placed on the Internet to be viewed by the treatment group (online distance education students). These digital files were created from the original lectures using RealProducer 9.0 software. RealPlayer, a free program available online, was required to view the files. The instructor uploaded the digital files to a RealServer and made available to both the online students and the in-class students for asynchronous viewing. The online students also met with the instructor in scheduled chat sessions. Transcripts of the chat sessions were posted online and made available to both groups so that neither the on-campus nor distance group had any more information than the other. Students in both groups also used discussion boards, e-mail, phone calls, and office hours to communicate with the instructor. Following the completion of the courses, final course scores were analyzed. The control group consisted of 27 students who were enrolled in and who completed one of the three on-campus sections of the course. These face-to-face students attended classes in a campus computer lab. The computer lab allowed each student to have his or her own workstation during the in-class sessions. These computers were necessary for the completion of course assignments and exams. The treatment group consisted of 29 students who were enrolled in and who completed one of the online sections of the course. The treatment group was required to have the proper hardware, software, and an Internet connection to view the lessons. School policy requires that distance education students have access to an appropriately equipped computer, the proper software, and an Internet connection to enroll in an online course. The independent variable for this study was the principal delivery method for course instruction, that is, whether they are receiving instruction mainly via asynchronous streaming video or mainly via traditional, in-class instruction. The dependent variable for this study was student achievement based on the final course score. -- 374 --
  4. 4. Concerns The groups (classroom and asynchronous streaming video online) were not randomly selected. They consisted of students from a single university in Hawai‗i and do not necessarily represent the college and university population at large. The groups were self-selected by enrollment in a classroom or online section. Neighbor Island (Non-O‗ahu) students had no real choice since they had to enroll in the online section if they wished to enroll in the class at all. Internal validity was a concern regarding the knowledge and experiences participants may have received prior to participating in the course. And finally, the study was not ―blind‖─ the instructor knew who was in each group. The ability to properly generalize results derived from the sample population to the target population is a major concern. Unfortunately, addressing concerns regarding the external validity of the study was not possible without random selection of the sample population or repeating the study using different participants, classes, or instructors. Another concern was the way students dropped the course when they were doing poorly or not as well as they had expected. University of Hawai‗i - West O‗ahu students may drop a class anytime before the end of the ninth week of the semester without penalty. By that time two exams had been administered and students who were performing poorly would sometimes drop the course. The result was that the mean scores for the students who did finish the course were in the mid-80s. Data Analysis Table 1 below summarizes the mean scores for the class tests and overall course grade scores over the three semesters. Besides these test scores, class and quality circle participation, group projects, and a critical review of Kaku‘s Visions also contributed to the total course grade score. Together they made up 35% of the total course grade score. Asynchronous Streaming Video Classroom Students Item Online Students N=27 N=29 Test 1 8.6 8.9 (10 Points Max.) Test 2 12.1 11.5 (15 Points Max.) Test 3 16.6 17.5 (20 Points Max.) Final Exam 17.6 17.4 (20 Points Max.) Course Grade Score 86.2 85.9 (100 points Max.) Table 1. Test and course grade mean scores. -- 375 --
  5. 5. Statistical Tests Analysis of the course grade scores for each group (classroom vs. streaming online) showed a strong similarity of the means. The mean course grade score for the classroom students was 86.2 while the mean course grade score for the asynchronous streaming video online students was 85.9. Using the t-test for unequal variances, the p-value was 0.86. This provides a strong statistical conclusion that the means were not different. In this instance, where all students had equal access to class content, asynchronous streaming video appears to have been as effective as the traditional classroom. Student Grade Scores and Analysis The results of this study support the idea that the quality of instruction in distance learning courses compares favorably to that of traditional face-to-face courses. This corresponds to the findings of Beare (1989), Johnson, Aragon, Shaik, and Palma-Rivas (2000) whose results all showed no significant difference in achievement between online and face-to-face students. We did not find that the asynchronous streaming video group outperformed the classroom group as Shachar and Neumann‘s (2003) work would suggest. These results are in line with Clarke‘s (1994) finding that delivery methods have no influence on student achievement as well as more recent work that found no overall course-grade benefit for students who reported that they found streaming audio and video technology useful over those who did not use it (Loudon and Sharp, 2006). One of our concerns was that the online students self-reported marginally higher levels of course knowledge on the pre-course assessment. This concern appears unfounded and may be due to the problems inherent in self-reporting or in the instrument itself. If the students really had a greater knowledge base, we would expect them to have outperformed the face-to-face students. We noted the following secondary benefits of asynchronous streaming video from the classroom to the remote student‘s desktop:  Students reviewed or intensively studied classes or portions of classes they did not understand when the material was originally presented  Instructor could review class files to correct errors in presentations or to add supplementary material to a web-based errata file  Instructor could review class files for teaching effectiveness and make improvements where necessary  Class files could be reviewed for teaching effectiveness when making decisions relating to contract renewal, tenure, post-tenure review, and professional development Finally, the scheduling and enrollment implications of offering courses or training in asynchronous streaming video format with chat, e-mail, discussion board, and/or videoconferencing components for instructor/student interaction could be enormous. It also could be a boon to geographical areas with weak network infrastructures. Archived files could be distributed on compact discs eliminating delivery problems associated with poor network connections and offer access to entirely new groups of students. References Beare, P.L. (1989). The comparative effectiveness of videotape, audiotape, and telelecture in delivering continuing teacher education. The American Journal of Distance Education 3 (2), 57-66. Biner, P.M., Dean, R.S., & Mellinger, A.E. (1994). Factors underlying distance learner satisfaction with televised college-level courses. The American Journal of Distance Education 8 (1), 60-71. -- 376 --
  6. 6. Childers, C., Rizzo, F., & Bangert, L. (1999). Streaming Media for Web Based Training. Proceedings of WebNet 99─World Conference on the WWW and Internet Honolulu, Hawaii; October 24-30, 1999, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Charlottesville, VA. 213-218. Clark, R.E. (n.d.). Media will never influence learning. Retrieved October 30, 2005, from Cofield, J. (2003, November). Comparing streaming video and videotapes: Can streaming video convey affective meaning as well as videotape? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, Biloxi, MS. Online at Retrieved February 24, 2005. Discenza, R., Howard, C., & Schenk, K. (2002). The design & management of effective distance learning programs. Hershey & London: Idea Group Publishing. Fill, K. & Ottewill, R. (2006). Sink or swim: taking advantage of developments in video streaming. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 43 (4), 397–408. Flower, E. & Sawa, S. (2005). Synchronous Streaming Video from the Classroom to the Remote Student‘s Desktop: Report of a Distributed Education Project. Proceedings of E-Learn 2005 World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Health Care, & Higher Education October 24-28, 2005, Vancouver BC, Canada. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Chesapeake, VA. 654-659. Fritz, J. (1999). Caught up on video? Data Communications 28 (15), 51-55. Hanss, T. (2001). Digital video: Internet2 killer app or Dilbert‘s nightmare. EDUCAUSE Review 36 (3), 17-25. Hecht, J. (1999). Bleeding on the Edge II: Instructing with Live Audio Video, and Text over the Internet. Proceedings of WebNet 99─World Conference on the WWW and Internet, Honolulu, Hawaii; October 24-30, 1999, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Charlottesville, VA. 1290-1291. Jackson, R. (2001). Web-based Learning Resources Library. This material was originally online at It is now available in revised and updated form at Retrieved March 30, 2005. Johnson, S. D., Aragon, S. R., Shaik, N. & Palma-Rivas, N. (2000). Comparative analysis of learner satisfaction and learning outcomes in online and face-to-face learning environments. Journal of Interactive Learning Research 11(1), 29-49. Retrieved May 7, 2004, from Loudon, M. & Sharp, M. (2006). Online class review: using streaming-media technology. Journal of College Science Teaching 36 (3), 39-43. Rivera, J.C., McAlister, M.K., & Rice, M.L. (n.d.). A comparison of student outcomes & satisfaction between traditional & web based course offerings. Retrieved July 4, 2004, from Sawa, S. & Flower E. (2006) Asynchronous Streaming Video from the Classroom to the Remote Student‘s Desktop: Preliminary Results of a Distance Education Project. Proceedings of E-Learn 2006 World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Health Care, & Higher Education October 13-17, 2006, Honolulu, HI, USA. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, Chesapeake, VA. 898-903. Shachar, M. & Neumann, Y. (2003). Differences Between Traditional and Distance Education Academic Performances: A meta- analytic approach. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 4(2). Retrieved October 24, 2005, from Shephard, K. (2003). Questioning, promoting and evaluating the use of streaming video to support student learning. British Journal of Educational Technology 34 (3), 303. -- 377 --