My first experience teaching an ITV (Interactive Television) class was terrifying. The idea that there was a group of students in another class, in another campus, in another town, relying on me to press all the right buttons, adjust the microphones, adjust the cameras, and, I almost forgot, teach a class. This was surely unfamiliar territory for me. Just days before my first ITV class, I had a very quick in-service about what does what, but that first day of class, you become that Captain Kirk at the podium, plotting your course, making sure everything is turned on;
Boldly Going Where No Teacher (at least this one) Has Ever Gone Before.
As the screens light up and the images of students on the Prescott campus appeared, I thought, I got this, what’s the big deal. The clock struck 3:30pm and it was show time. I began talking and I could hear the students on the Prescott campus stating they couldn’t hear me well. I fumbled with the volume controls for a few minutes until I realized I forgot to turn on my mike. Since I joked about feeling like Captain Kirk before class started with students, a voice echoed from the back of the classroom, “that’s Ok, Captain Kirk was only human too.” Compassion in the classroom, you got to love it.
Back on course, the rest of the class seemed to go without any more incidences, but I was beginning to realize a big challenge teaching an ITV class, the lack of mobility. I like to walk around the classroom unless I’m using the whiteboard during class. During class discussions, I walk around, getting closer to the discussions floating around the classroom. Students don’t seem to mind and for me it’s became part of how I delivery a lesson. In an ITV class, this becomes impossible. You must remain in the camera view. I found I needed to adjust how I delivered a lesson staying in one spot. Another adjustment I had to make was, I couldn’t clearly see the faces of the students in the remote classroom. I mean, to really see their faces. I began to realize how important that was. To see students’ reactions, body language, all those cues we get in the classroom that tells us if they’re bored or really listening and understanding the material.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but even with all the advantages it provides us in making our lives easier, it does present challenges. One of the biggest challenges has been getting to spend face to face time with my students. This is why I decided that with my ITV class that meets twice a week, I spend one class meeting on the Verde Campus and the other class meeting on the Prescott Campus. This has made not only a tremendous difference in my interaction with students, but students appreciate the opportunity to have that face to face with their instructor.
I believe that challenges make us better at what we do. The more adjustments we find in adapting to something new, usually we gain a better perspective in what we are trying to accomplish. I think the challenges I faced in teaching in an interactive video classroom has made me more confident as an instructor and continues to challenge me in developing more effective ways of delivering a lesson in an ITV environment.
Oh, I almost forgot…live long and prosper…