Asynchronous Streaming Video from the Classroom to the Remote Student’s
Desktop: Report of a Distributed Education Project
University of Hawai‗i-West O‗ahu, USA
University of Hawai‗i-West O‗ahu, USA
Abstract: For three semesters we used streaming video software from RealNetworks.com 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.
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 RealNetworks.com 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.
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
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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,
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.
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.
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
http://socrates.uhwo.hawaii.edu/BusAd/Flower/330/default.html). Students were college juniors or seniors. There
were 27 students in the control group and 29 students in the treatment group.
―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
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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%
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.
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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.
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
Asynchronous Streaming Video
Item Online Students
(10 Points Max.)
(15 Points Max.)
(20 Points Max.)
(20 Points Max.)
Course Grade Score
(100 points Max.)
Table 1. Test and course grade mean scores.
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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
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
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.
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courses. The American Journal of Distance Education 8 (1), 60-71.
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