Distance Learning

Natalie K. Munn
Howard Besser
LIS296
May 2, 1994

NOTICE

Many campuses are considering integrating distance learning solutions into their curriculum, but few have solicited student input on the topic. Some, like Golden Gate University, have already embraced teleconferencing technology. [1] Most discussions of distance learning concentrate on cost-benefit analysis, the capabilities of the technologies under ideal conditions, or the experiences of K-12 students in special projects.[2] It is important to ask whether distance learning in practice can provide a meaningful and satisfactory educational experience for graduate students.

In Spring quarter '94, Professor Jeff Dozier at UC Santa Barbara(UCSB), opened his graduate course, "Information Systems for the Study of Global Change," to students at remote sites. I enrolled in Jeff's course as a remote student from UC Berkeley(UCB), where I am a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Studies(SLIS). Professor Dozier used picture-tel, a teleconferencing system, to bring his weekly class to outside students. He also used internet tools like email and ftp to communicate with students and distribute course materials.

What follows are my impressions of the positive and negative aspects of the technologies used to bring Professor Dozier's class "Information Systems for the Study of Global Change" to remote students. Starting with the second class session, I kept a personal log of problems associated with the teleconferencing system used for the course. Most of the following observations are based on these notes. I also distributed questionnaires to the professor and my fellow students asking for their input regarding the positive and negative aspects of the distance learning technologies in the class. In the interests of presenting a readable summary of the class experience, I have integrated the questionnaire responses into the body of the paper as much as possible and presented class experience in chronological order. I have also described the distribution of the questionnaires and the level of response in chronological context. The full text of the questionnaires and individuals' responses follow in Appendixes A , B , & C .[3]

Luckily, I found out about the course by word of mouth in late Fall semester '93. Professor Howard Besser, at UCB's SLIS, advised that I register for the course and explained that Jeff Dozier at UCSB and Michael Stonebraker at UCB's Computer Science (CS) department were the course instructors.[4] However, registering for the course would be difficult. The UCB registration system did not accommodate the course very well. I was unable to identify the course among those listed in UC's for-fee print publication of course offerings for Spring '94. The courses offered by Professor Stonebraker in CS did not have adequate textual descriptions and I was unable to positively identify the course from the publication. I was similarly unable to identify the course using UC's online Infocal system, or the Info/Telebears touch-tone phone registration systems. My assigned registration time passed and I was still not registered for the course.

At the start of Spring semester at UCB, I went to the CS department offices in Evans Hall hoping I would have better luck in person. CS Department staff directed me to a flyer that had been posted the day before on a bulletin board The flyer described the course & listed a UCB course id number. I am fairly certain this flyer and word of mouth were the only ways for UCB students to find out about the course. The flyer didn't include the course control number necessary for registration, but a member of the CS Dept. staff was able to assist me. I posted a copy of the flyer in South Hall at UCB where SLIS is housed. To my knowledge, the only other flyer at UCB was in Wurster Hall where the College of Environmental Design is housed. Since all the students at UCB who attended the course were from the academic units where these three flyers were posted, I assume students in other schools/departments at UCB were not well informed of the course offering. Registration at UCB might have been higher if course information was provided prior to scheduled registration times. In summary, the automated course registration systems currently in use were not seem adequately coordinated to inform students of distance learning opportunities or to enable timely registration for courses.

The first class meeting was Wednesday, January 12th. Professor Dozier gave out his electronic mail (email) address and asked students to send him email and introduce themselves. Email would become the communication method of choice. Every student who responded to my questionnaire listed email as their usual way of communicating with the professor. At the first session Professor Dozier also informed students that lectures and other course materials would be made available electronically via anonymous ftp (file transfer protocol).

From dozier@crseo.ucsb.edu
To: [all class members]
Subject: Course materials on public ftp
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 94 13:36:27 -0800

As announced during the first lecture, I will put 
some course material on public ftp.  This will include things like
syllabi and viewgraphs from the lectures.
For those of you who are new to this mode of information transfer, 
here's how you do it (this is one of those things that is "well known," 
to those who know it well):

ftp s2k-ftp.cs.berkeley.edu
Log it as 'anonymous' (without the quote marks).  Give your e-mail 
address as your password.

The appropriate directory is /pub/personal/dozier/course. Under 
this there will be a directory for each date, so the only one there now 
is 01.12.  In it are files syllabus.ps and lecture.ps.

		- Jeff Dozier

Ftp is well suited for electronic distribution of course materials. Information regarding class meetings was posted to the ftp site & students were able to download and print readings and overheads associated with the lectures:

From dozier@crseo.ucsb.edu
To: [all class members]
Subject: Information Systems for the Study of Global Change
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 94 13:13:05 -0800

PostScript files for today's lecture are in
/pub/personal/dozier/course/01.19 on s2k-ftp.cs.berkeley.edu. 
Files are:

lecture.ps:		viewgraphs, black & white

color.ps: viewgraphs, color eosobs.ps: assigned paper, "Planned EOS Observations of theLand, Ocean, and Atmosphere" figure2.ps: Figure 2 of above paper (sorry I don't have Figure 1 in PostScript)

Because the class relied on the anonymous ftp model to enable student access to course materials, many students could only retrieve information from the ftp site. They could not post to the site. Anonymous ftp allows internet users who don't have a LAN(local area network) or machine specific login name or password to access files on a given machine. Anonymous ftp is not usually implemented to allow users to add new files or change files that already exist.

The ftp site, s2k, was originally set up for use by the Sequoia 2000 research project, and some students associated with the Sequoia project had accounts that enabled them to write to the s2k ftp site.[5] Students were not given computer accounts tailored to the class and were expected to rely on their previous accounts to participate in the class. User privileges, storage limitations or expenses associated with students' previous accounts influenced the extent to which they could make use of the ftp site. Since all students did not have write privileges on the ftp site, many students were unable to post their overheads before giving presentations and students did not make other use of the site to communicate with one another. Ftp Directories can be created so that the can be written by anonymous ftp users. Providing directories like these for student use would enhance students' ability to share files and could improve student communications in distance learning situations.

Being able to refer to printed copies of the overheads facilitated understanding of the lecture material & compensated for limitations in image quality display of the picture-tel system. However, questionnaire respondents expressed frustration about the reliability of the ftp server as well as with their inability to download and print the appropriate files in the window available between when the files were posted and when class sessions began. Files were often large and printing them took a long time. Some students did not have easy access to color postscript or postscript printers/viewers. Every survey respondent reported depending on workplace equipment to participate in the class.

Students' reliance on workplace equipment and computer account privileges to participate in the class indicates that an improved campus information systems and technology infrastructure is necessary to provide equitable distance learning opportunities on a larger scale.

At both the first and second class lectures, there were only a few questions asked from remote sites For example, before the break in the second class lecture(1/19), San Diego had one question, but it was related to postscript file format (not lecture content). There were no questions from Sacramento or UCB. Professor Dozier commented on this to the class, stating that "if a class this size [met] in a room, people would be popping up their hands all the time". And he added that "just because we're using the TV doesn't mean you can't ask questions." After the class break, Professor Dozier remarked that the remote "crowds [were] thinning out," and he was right. Although nine remained at UCB, one person was at the Sacramento site and no one was left at the San Diego site. One of the questionnaire respondents explained that teleconferencing, is "like watching tv, so you don't feel as bad coming late, leaving early and being unprepared."

Students were not well enough acquainted with the professor and one another to communicate effectively in an environment that required them to interrupt each other. The following chart shows the mode and frequency of communications as reported by questionnaire respondents.

According to Professor Dozier, his overall one-on-one communication with students was lower than for a typical class. He hopes to remedy this next time he teaches remote students by offering teleconferenced office hours and visiting remotes sites. Remote students understandably expressed a lower level of communication with the professor than for a usual class. Except for their communication with fellow students at local sites, respondents reported little or no student-to-student communication across sites. Students were poorly acquainted, but the teleconferencing system demanded that they interrupt one another to initiate communication during class sessions. These circumstances were counterproductive.

At the third class meeting on 1/26, a female student at UCSB asked a question that couldn't be heard at the remote sites, because the picture-tel microphone and transmission were not sufficient to pick up and transmit her voice. Professor Dozier had to repeat her question for the benefit of the remote audience. This scenario would continue through the duration of the course. Female students, English as a second language students, and those who chose seats that were farthest away from the picture-tel microphone at their sites were most likely not to be heard at other sites, and subsequently their questions were often re-phrased before they were heard at the remote sites.

Besides the problem with hearing speakers from remote sites, there were problems viewing speaking participants. When the UCSD participant asked her question, at UCB we were looking at a slide rather than the participant querying the professor. We experienced similar problems many times throughout the course. For example, sometimes participants' questions were so brief that it was impossible to view the speaker before they had concluded their remarks. There is a feature on the picture-tel system that allows each system operator to pan the room at a remote site. But, UCB students weren't trained to use the picture-tel system, and we were not facile users for the first course sessions.

During the mid-class break of our second class session, a message from AT & T appeared on the screen of the picture-tel system at UCB, requesting a reservation number. No one was able to supply the number, and assistance was required from the CS Department staff. At UCB, we were initially frustrated by the picture-tel system and did not make full use of viewing features that could have improved the quality of the teleconferences.

One difficulty with encouraging use and familiarity with the picture-tel system was that only one person at each site could operate the system and influence the viewing environment. This would be like choosing one person in a regular classroom to "see" for everyone else. If they weren't looking at something, there's no way you'd be able to see it! And, you'd have no choice of about what you looked at regardless of your need or interest. No matter if you weren't finished looking at the viewgraph, wanted to see the professor's gestures, or needed to watch a speaker's lips because you found it difficult to understand their speech. With picture-tel you can't direct your own gaze and this makes it difficult to focus your concentration. In turn, this lack of control encourages apathy and sleepiness. One student at UCB had a noticeably hard time staying awake during the third class session. This brings up the question of whether it is equitable to create an educational experience where one student edits anther's view of the class.

With picture-tel, students' listening and viewing experiences are limited by the capabilities of the system and by the choices of both the remote and on-site operators. The classroom experience is twice edited before students have the opportunity to make any decisions about where to concentrate their attention. The majority of students must be passive viewers. They can not choose where to focus their gaze and this must severely limit where they focus their attention. This is a marked departure from the typical graduate seminar where students put forward and defend their own ideas in an environment where each participant can gauge the others' reactions. The issue of whether one student's experience of a class should be edited by another is a crucial point. Is this type of learning environment suitable for graduate education?

At the conclusion of the third session, Professor Dozier stated that it was "not as interactive as I like my courses to be." As the survey of class participants shows, students were frustrated because they were unable to raise their hands to signal that they had a question or comment. Students found it difficult to initiate questions or comments verbally, without visual cues. Visual signals are often used in the classroom to signify the desire to speak. A student will raise a hand, and then wait to be acknowledged before speaking. With picture-tel, this was not usually an option, because the camera would normally be focused on the speaker, not the audience. There was no way for participants to see each other's visual signals or to gauge the number of people who wanted to comment in response to a particular speaker. Because visual cues were not an option, people were forced to verbally interrupt the speaker to ask questions.

The picture-tel system forced participants to rethink classroom etiquette and communications. The taboo against verbally interrupting others without a prior visual signal was felt by everyone. Verbal interaction between the professor and students was highest at UCSB where they could see one another. Verbal interaction between the professor and students at remote sites was poor at first, but increased throughout the duration of the course. Verbal interaction between students across the sites was poor for most of the course teleconferences, but improved during student presentations.

Students in the class were expected to attend picture-tel sessions of Sequoia seminars each Friday. On 2/11 the session was conducted from UCB, and featured a workstation based teleconferencing demo. The session was crazy because an overhead projector was used to show output from the workstation to the audience at UCB and the lights had to be dimmed so we could see the screen they were displayed on. At UCB we couldn't see the picture-tel screen because it was so dark, so it impossible to see participants at the other sites. The darkness also overcame a few people who fell asleep. Another problem was that at the beginning of the session, there were a large number of participants at UCB. Most were too far from the picture-tel screen, speakers, and microphone to see anything or hear anything, let alone be heard by other participants via picture-tel. Many people left from many of the sites before the session was over. The benefits of a teleconferencing system like picture-tel can easily be sabotaged in an academic setting where furniture is often moved, class sizes fluctuate, and a multiplicity of presentation equipment is used.

By the class meeting on 2/16 we had used picture-tel several times, but the distance learning environment was not much improved from the point of view of students at UCB. On 2/16 we couldn't see Jeff Dozier most of the time, and we couldn't hear questions asked by others at remote sites. I believe that students' use of the picture-tel system improved over the course. But, our experience on 2/16, after we were fairly familiar with the system, shows that there were some limitations to the system that could not be overcome by greater familiarity.

To a certain degree, the viewing quality of the teleconference sessions depended more on the environment at the broadcast site than it did on the expertise of remote site operators. If the lighting at the broadcast site interfered with the camera, or something was interfering with the mike, there was little remote site operators could do to correct poor transmission. The usual solution with problems like these was to make specific complaints to the broadcast sites. The sun that feels nice in Santa Barbara can be nothing but an ugly glare by the time it gets to Berkeley via picture-tel.

If presentations via picture-tel are made with little consideration for the remote audience(or little feedback), The results can be disastrous. During the 2/18 Sequoia session, the presenter at the remote site attempted to focus the picture-tel document camera on a computer screen, but the image was very wavy. The speaker also had a very heavy accent and we could not follow the session very well at UCB. Someone from UCSB interrupted after the session had been in progress for a while and explained that they couldn't hear. The speaker repeated from the beginning of the session, but it was still difficult to follow the talk without seeing the speaker's mouth move. The speaker also showed overheads that remote viewers couldn't read. Many of the overheads were obscured because the speaker's pen wasn't removed quickly enough before the image of the document was sent to remote sites.

For some reason there was an extraneous terrible noise coming from the picture-tel speakers at UCB. This made it very uncomfortable to remain in the room. In spite of this, three people at UCB fell asleep and the last remaining faculty member from UCB associated with the Sequoia project left the session. A few minutes later there was a mass exodus. The problems continued, even thought there were fewer people to see them. The overheads looked like they were being imaged from behind the glass of a fish tank. By the end of the session, I was left alone in the room with one other person who was fast asleep. I terminated our session before the speaker at the distant site turned to us for questions. I didn't want the speaker to know that nearly everyone from UCB had left the room.

You've heard of talking about people behind their backs? Well, on picture-tel you can talk about people in front of their faces as long as you have your mike turned off. On Friday, 2/18 at the start of the picture-tel session, a fellow classmate began to point out people she recognized and explained who they were to students nearby. This kind of behavior would normally be inappropriate for students, but during the Sequoia sessions it was necessary.

Beyond introducing the featured speaker to participants at remote sites, there was rarely any attempt made to introduce anyone else. Even though students at remote sites were getting an opportunity to become more familiar with researchers at other campuses, this rarely extended even to name-face recognition. Several questionnaire respondents stated that one benefit of teleconferencing was that it allowed greater access to the experts in a given field. My experience with the Sequoia seminars suggests that teleconferencing alone does not automatically ensure this benefit. In groups where everyone is not previously acquainted, it would be helpful if all participants, or at least all speakers, identified themselves to those at remote sites.

On 2/23 the class session started off under difficult circumstances. There were people at our site moving furniture and equipment while Professor Dozier lectured via picture-tel. I don't know who they were, but I would venture to guess that they probably wouldn't have been creating such a disturbance if a professor was lecturing at our site in person. I could only see one student at the UCSB site. She was sitting behind Professor Dozier (his back was turned toward her). This struck me as an awkward seating arrangement, but we would later adopt the same scheme when we gave presentations from our usual site at UCB. This counterintuitive arrangement, where local speakers' faced away from their on-site audience, enabled both the local audience and the presenter to see the picture-tel screen. This strange juxtaposition of speaker and audience seems to place more importance on a speaker's need to face the camera than a speaker's need to face the audience, and similarly offers remote audiences a greater courtesy than on-site audiences.

In spite of adopting some tactics that favored remote audiences over on-site audiences, remote viewers often got the short end of the stick during lectures. On 2/23 The lighting was so bad at UCSB that Professor Dozier's face was in shadow and we couldn't see his mouth moving. This lack of visual cues made it very difficult to concentrate. From our site the on-screen window with an image of Professor Dozier's face was obscuring the window that displayed his viewgraphs. The picture-tel operator at UCB could have manipulated the display so that the windows were better arranged, but she had fallen asleep. I do not want to suggest that Professor Dozier was a poor lecturer. His lectures were both informative and well organized. He was also a facile user of the teleconferencing technology, in contrast to some of the other presenters we saw during the course. Most of the difficulties I have mentioned regarding picture-tel were problems that Professor Dozier worked around. He knew the limitations of the system and usually presented information in such a way that the picture-tel system did not interfere.

Other speakers were not so savvy. At the next sequoia seminar there are problems with viewing the speaker's graphics. At the beginning of the session the presenting site was having trouble getting started. They kept holding a file folder in front of their document camera. When the speaker finally got going he didn't look at the camera, and remote viewers couldn't see his face. He started to talk about his viewgraphs, but remote viewers couldn't see them because they hadn't been sent yet. When they were sent he was questioned because remote viewers couldn't read the legend associated with the graphs. He had to read the legend each time he presented a graph, but remote viewers were still having problems interpreting the graphs because they couldn't distinguish between the colors on the line graphs presented by the speaker. One person repetitively asked the same question over and over. The speaker couldn't or wouldn't answer him. A student at UCB whispered "What's the opposite of collaboration -not getting along?". The audience at UCB cleared out pretty rapidly during this session.

In February, I consulted with Professor Dozier by email and inquired about writing up the positive and negative aspects of the use of distance learning technologies in the course. I explained that I would present my findings as my midterm project for Howard Besser's class "Impact of New Information Resources: Multimedia & Networks" at UCB's School of Library and Information Studies. I also asked for permission to distribute a questionnaire to Professor Dozier's students. Professor Dozier agreed to respond to a questionnaire, so I sent a copy of the student questionnaire, and asked for his response to a series of questions that were geared toward the use of distance learning technologies from an instructor's point of view. Professor Dozier sent me a list of 28 email addresses for people associated with the course.

I never asked for a list of names of people in the class. During one of the first class sessions we each introduced ourselves via picture-tel. This was our only formal attempt to match names with faces in the class. To my knowledge, except for finger information available on individuals' email accounts, no effort was made by the professor or students in the "Information Systems for Global Change" course to circulate name or other personal information between participants in the class. In retrospect, I assume that an atmosphere of anonymity was unconsciously created in the class. This anonymity may have contributed to students' hesitancy to question other student speakers during picture-tel sessions. There was no polite verbal way to initiate communication student to student communications.

In a seminar where students share one physical space, student to student communications are often a large part of classroom communication. One student will make a comment or ask a question and other students will wait until that student is done speaking before asking their questions or making their comments in turn. If a student needs to ask a speaker to repeat or clarify a point, a hand can be raised to signify to the speaker or the professor that an interruption is necessary. Similarly, students will use each other's names to initiate polite interruptions verbally: "Dan, could you repeat that? I didn't understand what you said" or "Sue, I don't agree with you. Can you better explain your argument?".

In a picture-tel session, students can't raise their hands to signify that they want to speak, nor can professors rely on this signal to initiate a mediation of student to student communications. In the "Information Systems for Global Change" course, students couldn't rely on etiquette to facilitate student to student communications. They couldn't initiate polite interruptions because they didn't know one another's names. As I mentioned before, the level of student to student communication during the picture-tel sessions was poor for most of the course. If students had better known one another's names, they may have been more likely to initiate verbal interruptions. Students' inability to initiate polite verbal interruptions probably exacerbated the problems with conducting classes via picture-tel. This another example of how teleconferencing benefits can not be achieved without the adoption of a commonly understood etiquette.

Professor Dozier and I continued to communicate about my project for his class, and about the questionnaires. He sent an edited version of the email addresses listing 12 non-UCB students who were registered for the course, so that I would know how many registered students had responded to the survey. I sent the student questionnaires by email on March 2nd, 1994 to the 12 person list that I received from Professor Dozier, and to students from UCB. Since I did not have a list of the students' names, I addressed the survey to all students in the class, rather than to each person individually.

The initial return rate on the questionnaires was poor. (Four people had responded by 3/11/94. I made a verbal request for responses to the questionnaire at the next picture-tel session. Professor Dozier would make a similar request at the last session. By May 1, 1994 I had received the professor's response and eight student responses. In his questionnaire response Professor Dozier verifies that a total of 12 people were active in the class by the end of the quarter: "We had 5 UCSB students, + 5 remote (Berkeley, DWR) + 2 staff at SDSC who attended most sessions". Of the twelve students listed here, 6 responded. The other two respondents were an auditor from UCB and a student who dropped the course. For active/enrolled students the questionnaire return rate was 50%. The anonymity that typified class dynamics may have influenced the mediocre return rate.

When people are better acquainted they are more likely to respond to each other's needs. I think a more personalized approach including addressing by name and individualized email or phone follow-ups would have improved the return rate. Similarly, I think all student-to-student communication related to the class could have improved if students were relating on a first name basis early in the course. Professor Dozier is aware of the relatively low levels of acquaintance and how they may have influenced class dynamics. He plans to have student presentations earlier in the semester next time he teaches remote students.

According to professor Dozier, his overall one-on-one communication with students was lower than for a typical class. He hopes to remedy this next time he teaches remote students by offering teleconferenced office hours and of communication with the professor than for a usual class. Except for their communication with fellow students at local sites, respondents reported little or no student-to-student communication across sites. Students were poorly acquainted, but the teleconferencing system demanded that they interrupt one another to initiate communication during class sessions. These circumstances were counterproductive.

When asked how their level of communication with the professor and other students compared with previous classes, remote respondents unanimously reported that it was worse, or reduced. UCSB student respondents did not share this point of view. One reported a higher level of communication than usual with the professor and the other reported that the level of communication was the same as in previous classes. Neither of the UCSB respondents reported communicating with off-site students, but they didn't compare this negatively with previous experience. In contrast, the remote-site students seemed more aware that their communication with students at other sites was reduced or non-existent compared with student-to student communication locally or in previous classes.

A newsgroup or email reflector might have bridged the gap between students across sites and fostered a larger degree of acquaintance between classmates. This would could have improved use of the teleconferencing system. In future, Professor Dozier would like to give lectures from each location as he makes his visits to remote students. These visits may also encourage a higher level of interaction between sites.

The last two classes were devoted to student presentations. The first group of students presented on 3/10. Professor Dozier went over a list of pointers for making successful picture-tel presentations during the class session the previous week. He also made the list available on the class ftp site. The UCB group met at an alternative site on 3/10 (a small conference room in Evans Hall) because our usual classroom was in use by another group. This worked out fine, as only the students who were enrolled in the class showed up for the session. There were four students at UCB who stayed with the course 'til the end of the quarter. Three were from Computer Science, and I was the fourth.

The first day of student presentations, one UCB student made a presentation. Since we were in the small conference room, the arrangement was different than usual. The four of us sat side by side on the long side of a curved conference table. For the first time ever, we could all see each other and the speaker at our site was not sitting with his back to the on-site audience. The speaker at Berkeley had the document camera and the picture-tel control panel on the conference table at arm's reach. He wore an attachable personal microphone & the group's picture-tel mike sat in the middle of the conference table. The picture-tel device was in the corner of the room nearest the speaker and was close enough for everyone in our small group to see and hear communications from remote sites clearly. This arrangement was much better than our usual set up. The smaller group and smaller room were more compatible with picture-tel and the benefits of the technology really stood out.

The student presenter at UCB was able to state his research findings to the professor and other participants at remote sites. There was no problem viewing his graphics on the picture-tel system. He used a large easy to read font for text and there was good contrast between the colors on his graphs. During his presentation he fielded a few questions. At the conclusion of the presentation he made time for a more intense Q & A. Professor Dozier and other students at the remote sites asked questions and the Berkeley student presenter was able to re-transmit images of his graphs to support his responses. This was the most successful interactive use of the picture-tel system by a student for scholarly communication that the UCB group had witnessed first hand up to this point.

The other presentations that day were from sites remote to Berkeley. The students used the system in a similar way to the UCB student and most of the presentations were similarly successful. One student at a remote site presented some rather controversial claims, and received some questions from other students in response. This dialogue remained polite, although it might not have been so civilized if the claims had been presented in person. I think that other students were reluctant to challenge someone they were hearing from for the first time. One usually does not openly criticize someone who they have just met. Had students been on more familiar terms, the presenting student probably would have had to defend her claims more strongly against much more aggressive criticism.

The following week the remaining students were to make their student presentations. At UCB we were back in our usual room and some people who were not enrolled in the class attended at UCB and other sites. One student incorporated images and video into his presentation, and this seemed like good media for picture-tel. The student was able to continue speaking to remote sites during the video and this was much better than presenting the video and then referring back to it. Picture-tel seemed like a good solution for incorporating video into a teleconferenced presentation.

My presentation was mostly verbal, with accompanying textual black on white laser printouts that I used to emphasize key points. I was also able to show a black on white graph on paper, a color transparency and a specimen from the UC herbarium by imaging them with the document camera. Compared to a single media display device like an overhead projector or slide projector, I enjoyed the flexibility afforded by the document camera. For this presentation it was not necessary for me to present output from a computer screen, but for many of my presentations, this is necessary. To my knowledge, picture-tel does not enable this type of real-time presentation. However, the picture-tel document camera enabled me to make a presentation similar in character to a slide or overhead presentation and I was able to avoid the extra step of getting equipment-specific slides or transparencies prepared.

Professor Dozier provided sufficient advice to students on how to effectively use the system for their presentations. Nearly all of the student presentations in the course made better use of picture-tel than did the weekly sequoia presentations. This difference in success suggests that professors who begin to offer classes via picture-tel or similar teleconferencing systems will not not be able to use lectures or materials prepared for a traditional classroom without some preparation and reformatting. Professors who have not made this effort will not be able to provide a suitable level instruction. Training sessions on the use of the teleconferencing system should be strongly encouraged for professors who plan to use the technology.

Training sessions will better enable registered students and professors to useteleconferencing systems, but will students register for classes that use teleconferencing technologies in the first place? Four of the questionnaire respondents had used teleconferencing systems before taking the class, but only one questionnaire respondent had previously taken a class as a remote-site student. This inexperience did not seem to influence students' decisions to register for the class. It is more difficult to determine whether the use of teleconferencing influenced students' decisions about whether to take the course for a grade. Two on-site respondents, who were taking the course for a grade, commented that they would have taken the course for a grade even if they had been remote-site students. Two remote-site respondents took the class for a grade. One remote-site respondent, like myself, took the course on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. The other two remote-site respondents audited the class (no-credit). The respondent who dropped the course stated that the decision had nothing to do with the use of teleconferencing. These responses suggest that student registration levels will not necessarily be directly influenced by whether a course is offered on site or via distance learning technologies.

When asked to comment on the benefits of distance learning from their point of view as students in the class, four of the respondents expressed the benefit of learning about a particular subject from an expert or specialist in the field. Respondents emphasized that the use of distance learning allowed one specialist to teach at several locations simultaneously and that this enabled students to learn from someone with expertise that was not available locally. Another student mentioned the benefit of being able to take the class from the workplace. One student commented that distance learning was "better than nothing". This candid response shows the need for further consideration about the role of distance learning technologies in higher education.

For now, the primary benefit of distance learning to graduate students is that it allows students to take courses from a professor with specialized expertise not available locally. The negative aspects of distance learning technologies as experienced in Professor Dozier's class should serve as a warning. Distance learning technologies, like picture-tel and understanding of the classroom etiquette necessary to their success are not sufficiently developed to provide graduate students with the equivalent experience of a on-site seminar at a quality university. If students are to have a graduate educational experience that rivals their predecessors, distance learning technologies should not replace traditional seminars. However, distance learning technologies in graduate education have great potential to bring together students with the appropriate educators and contemporaries. They can serve as a valuable complement to the traditional graduate educational curriculum. Professor Dozier expressed a willingness to open future classes to remote students. These classes should present an opportunity for continued study of distance learning in graduate education.

Appendix A

TO: All Students in Information Systems for the Study of Global Change
FROM: Natalie Munn, UCB
DATE: 3/2/94
RE: Your responses to Distance Learning

I'm doing a short paper on distance learning for a class called "Impact of New Information Resources: Multimedia & Networks" here at UCB. The class has hosted a variety of speakers who discussed the benefits of distance learning technologies. As a member of Jeff's class I feel like we've experienced some of the negative points as well. I'd like to get your impressions of the effectiveness of distance learning technologies for use in my paper.

Could you take a moment to answer the following questions?

1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site, and ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give your point of view)

2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing technology like picture-tel?

3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

5. Were you acquainted with any of the other students/participants at remote locations before the class?

6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone, fax).

8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other students?

9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in your otherclasses?

10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a student in this class?

11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place of employment to participate in the class?

13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in this class?

15. Any comments?

Send me your responses via email. Give me a call days at 510-642-5306 or 510 642-6533 at MIP, or you can call me at home 510 494-8999 anytime after 7pm on weekdays or anytime on weekends.

Thanks,
Natalie

Appendix B

From Respondent One
Fri Mar 18 16:54:30 1994
Subject: Distance Learning
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 1994 16:51:14

> 1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you
> are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site, and
> ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give
> your point of view)

Yes. I'm in Sacramento at DWR.

> 2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing
> technology like picture-tel?

Yes, of any kind of visual teleconferencing

> 3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your
> decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

I'm taking it as a 298 class which is mandatory S/U.

> 4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

No, not personally, only through literature

> 5. Were you acquainted with any of the other students/participants
> at remote locations before the class?

No

> 6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

No, I'm new to this but it's part of my job at DWR

> 7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone,
>fax).

e-mail

> 8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other students?

Bi-weekly with Jeff. I haven't yet with the others.

> 9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students
>compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in your
>other classes?

Worse. I really prefer live face-to-face communication.

> 10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a
>student in this class?

I can take this class from the same building where I work. EXTREMELY beneficial.

> 11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources
>necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

Yes, the s2k-ftp computer occasionally is down, or Jeff doesn't get things out there before class.

> 12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place
>of employment to participate in the class?

Only to receive/send e-mail

> 13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on
>resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

Um, yes, but I feel that I DID fully participate, except when I missed lectures.

> 14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in this
>class?

I wish there was a more polite way to break in and ask questions than just blurting them out. No way to "raise your hand."

> Thanks,
> Natalie

Sure!

End Survey Response From Respondent One


From Respondent Two
Subject: Re: Dozier Class
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU (Natalie K. Munn)
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 1994 12:16:13 -0800 (PST)

>> 1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you
>> are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site,
>> and ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give your
>> point of view)

No - I took a seminar last semester over Picture-Tel.

>> 2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing
>> technology like picture-tel?

No

>> 3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your
>> decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

Grade. No influence on my decision.

>> 4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

I had seen him talk before and had read about him.

>> 5. Were you acquainted with any of the other students/participants at
>> remote locations before the class?

I know who some of them are from the Sequoia Retreat

>> 6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

Yes - I'm doing a project using the Postgres database for the Dept. of Water Resources. Mike Stonebraker is my research advisor.

>> 7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone, fax). email

>> 8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other students? once every couple of weeks or so. Other students I see outside class if they are in my department (CS) or they are friends

>> 9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students
>> compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in
>> your other classes?

No communication with the instructor, very little with students in the class. This is very different from past in-class experience

>> 10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a
>> student in this class?

There is only one benefit: I get to attend a lecture by a person whom I normally would hear speak very rarely.

>> 11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources
>> necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

No

>> 12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place
>> of employment to participate in the class?

Sort of - These resources are available to most graduate students in CS and I am being paid to do CS research

>> 13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on
>> resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

Don't understand

>> 14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in this
>> class?

>> 15. Any comments?

This is a really horrible way to take a class. It must be equally difficult to teach this way. The teacher has no way of knowing how his pace is. It's hard to get feedback, even interrupting with the mike, because of the delay over the wires. The speaker must sit in one spot and not move so the camera won't have to move around. There is little audience feedback: no (or delayed) laughter at jokes, no quizzical looks or knowing nods. From the students' point of view, the volume is never loud enough, the audio is fuzzy, the slides are fuzzy, the picture is too small to see details, the delay in transmitting new graphics and in fielding questions is disconcerting. Many factors inhibit interaction between teacher and class, and among students: the delay in audio, speaking into a microphone, having to watch oneself on camera, having to interrupt the speaker to ask a question. Note in a real classroom there are pauses and places where a question or comment can be inserted. The student can raise her hand and the teacher can choose when or whether to respond. Here, one must actually disrupt the transmission, so many fewer questions are asked.

Because they are not interactive, these classes are very static; they are less interesting, and make one sleepy after a short time. Learning *does* go on, but it must be at a much lower level than if there were more interaction.

On the other hand, I would not be able to take this class were it not for Picture Tel, so I suppose we have to grit our teeth and endure the technology.

End Survey Response From Respondent Two


From Respondent Three Mon Mar 7 20:27:01 1994
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU (Natalie K. Munn)
Subject: Re: Dozier Class
Date: Mon, 07 Mar 94 20:27:27 -0800
RE: Your responses to Distance Learning

1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site, and ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give your point of view)

yes.

2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing technology like picture-tel?

no, i have watched the plenary presentations of usenix from the terminal room via mbone video.

3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

no grade, not taking class for credit.

4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

no.

5. Were you acquainted with any of the other students/participants at remote locations before the class?

i have met frew and gary darling from dwr.

6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

not directly on the payroll, but i have assisted a sequoia user.

7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone, fax).

email.

8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other students?

about 4 times during the entire class.

9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in your other classes?

much less.

10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a student in this class?

it is more like watching tv, so you don't feel as bad coming late, leaving early and being unprepared.

11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

once i tried to pick up the notes by ftp buy they were so large and my printer so slow that they did not finish printing before class time.

12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place of employment to participate in the class?

yes, the network, ftp, email, printers

13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

i am not a student exactly, but probably not.

14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in thisclass?

see answer 10.

15. Any comments?

please send a copy of your paper if it is easy for you to do so

End Survey Response from Respondent Three


From Respondent Four
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 94 17:06:21 PST
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU
Subject: questionaire - sorry this took so long

1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site, and ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give your point of view)

I am an on-site student at UCSB. However, from viewing the student presentations over the last two class meetings I think that I have a good idea of the difficulties in remote learning.

2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing technology like picture-tel?

Yes.

3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

Grade. Personally, my decision would not be affected if I were remote.

4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

I had attended a presentation by him for the CS group I am working for. I asked some questions during that period and have communicated with him over e-mail off-and-on since then.

5. Were you acquainted with any of the other students/participants at remote locations before the class?

No.

6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

No.

7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone, fax).

Mainly through e-mail, but also personally in his office (since I am not remote).

8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other students?

I have e-mailed Jeff probably twice a week (on average) during the course. Other than communicating with you over e-mail, I have not communicated significantly over e-mail to their students. I have talked to local students some after class.

9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in your other classes?

Probably a little higher, at least for Jeff.

10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a student in this class?

It permits specialists in a particular area to teach a class at several locations simultaneously. Thus, it allows professors to teach more students.

11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

Yes. I do not use Suns very much, so I had no way of viewing postscript files. I worked on finding a software package for viewing postscript on Windows or Windows NT (the Oss I use at work and home) but could not find anything for less than $400. Also, I have had problems picking some stuff up off of the ftp site. I also have had problems copying my final presentation to the ftp site.

12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place of employment to participate in the class?

Yes. I use the 14,400 modem at my work to do data transfers and (generally) to correspond via e-mail during work hours.

13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

Yes, although it might have been harder.

14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in this class?

The use of the Picturetel system was a little distracting when trying to listen to other students presentations. It would help if we were more familiar with the system.

15. Any comments?

I enjoyed this class. I was disappointed in the lack of participation locally by my brother CS students. They started out in the class (3-4 of them) and they all stopped attending after 2-3 meetings. I think that classes like this that encourage students from different departments to look at a single issue are very important and needed. I think that the majority of CS students do not get out into the other parts of campus enough, and this hurts them and the department. The other departments are where the users of computer systems are. Getting to know them helps us design better systems.

End Survey Response from Respondent Four


From Respondent Five
Thu Mar 3 11:31:14 1994
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU (Natalie K. Munn)
Subject: Re: Dozier CLass
Date: Thu, 03 Mar 1994 11:32:31 -0800

Reply to questions:

1) on-site

2) no

3) grade, no

4) yes

5) no

6) no

7) e-mail, in-person conversations

8) once per week, once or twice per week

9) same

10) More people from different backgrounds. You can get the "expert" view from the "expert" sort of in-person with graphics and hand gestures, which you can't get over the phone. ("expert" or closest person you have to it in the circle of people on Picture-tel)

11) no

12) yes

13) no - That computer system has been highly unreliable this quarter, being down more than it was up, which would have made getting things from anonymous ftp difficult.

14) Sequoia 2000 seminars on Friday's: People at remote-sites can't see anything on viewgraphs when they are constantly being moved around. Pointing a camera at a computer screen doesn't do much good for remote-site people either.

End Survey Response from Respondent Five


From: Respondent Six
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 1994 18:36:45 -0800
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU
Subject: Re: Dozier Class

I left the class because I wasn't very interested in the topics he intended to discuss nothing to do with distance learning.

End of response from Respondent Six


From: Respondent Seven
Subject: Re: Dozier class
To: nkmunn@netcom.com (Natalie K. Munn)
Date: Sun, 1 May 1994 18:30:00 -0700 (PDT)

1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site, and ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give your point of view)

Yes.

2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing technology like picture-tel?

Using. I've seen similar stuff, briefly.

3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

No; auditing only.

4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

No.

5. Were you acquainted with any of the other students/participants at remote locations before the class?

No.

6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

Only peripherally; the Water Resources Center Archives, where I work part-time, is an interested party, but not directly involved.

7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone, fax).

Notatall.

8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other students?

See above.

9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in your other classes?

See above.

10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a student in this class?

Better than nothing, though sometimes not by much.

11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

No, though I might if I hadn't access through the folks in the Sequoia room.

12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place of employment to participate in the class?

Not really. Resources in WRCA are pretty primitive.

13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

Probably.

14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in this class?

Klunky interface, including woefully inadequate sound and awful picture quality. Some of this might be better controlled -- e.g. provide some sort of uniformish background for the lecturer rather than the sight of folks-qua-zoo (chewing, yawning, scratching...). Distracting (doubtless we've been spoiled by commercial TV production). Makes it hard to follow the content. Some of the remote presentations were so awful people walked out.

I had some difficulty downloading all the "slides" for the lectures; sometimes it seemed too much trouble for the value of the content. Should have been labeled better (there were a bunch of graphics that weren't worth the time and storage space they took up).

Nevertheless I did gain a pretty good Big Picture of the purposes of the EOS satellites and the problems associated with managing the data produced; it wasn't entirely a waste of time.

15. Any comments?

See above.

End Survey Response from Respondent Seven


From Respondent Eight
Mon May 2 11:34:57 1994
To: nkmunn@netcom.com
Subject: re: Distance Learning

> 1. Is this your first class as a remote-site student? (If you
> are an on-site student from UCSB, identify yourself as on-site, and
> ignore questions directed toward remote-site students, or give
> your point of view)

No, I've also attended the Sequoia seminars.

> 2. Is this class your first exposure to USING a teleconferencing
> technology like picture-tel?

No, I used them for Sequoia.

> 3. Are you taking the class pass/fail or for a grade? Was your
> decision influenced by whether you are at a remote-site?

I am taking the course for a grade, and was not influenced by being at a remote site.

> 4. Were you acquainted with Jeff Dozier before the class?

Yes, through Sequoia.

> 5. Were you acquainted with any of the other
>students/participants at
> remote locations before the class?

Only Jeff.

> 6. Have you participated in the Sequoia project? In what capacity?

Yes, I have, as an industrial liaison and as a student.

> 7. How do you communicate with Jeff Dozier? (Ex. email, phone, fax).

Most often by email.

> 8. How often do you communicate with Jeff? With other
>students?

With students, perhaps once a week. With Jeff, perhaps a few times during the quarter.

> 9. How does your level of communication with Jeff and other students
> compare to your level of interaction with the professors & students in your
> other classes?

I had a comparable level of contact with other Berkeley students, a somewhat reduced level of contact with Jeff, and a very reduced level of interaction with the students at remote sites.

> 10. What are the benefits of distance learning from your point of view as a
> student in this class?

The opportunity to take a class from Jeff; he has expertise not available locally.

> 11. Have you encountered any difficulties getting access to resources
> necessary to your full participation in the class (data, software, hardware)?

No.

> 12. Have you relied on resources (data, software, hardware) at your place of
> employment to participate in the class?

My employment as a GSR.

> 13. Would full participation have been possible for you if you relied on
> resources (data, software, hardware) available to you as a student?

Yes.

> 14. What were the negative aspects of the use of distance learning in this
> class?

Reduced interaction with the UCSB students.

> 15. Any comments?

Send me your responses via email.

End Survey Response from Respondent Eight

Appendix C Professor's Survey & Response:

From dozier@crseo.ucsb.edu Thu Apr 28 11:06:24 1994
To: nkmunn@info.Berkeley.EDU
Subject: responses
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 94 11:06:51 -0700
From: Jeff Dozier <dozier@crseo.ucsb.edu>

1. How many distance learning classes have you taught? How many students at locations remote from you have been involved?

This is my first try (this must have been obvious).

We had 5 UCSB students, + 5 remote (Berkeley, DWR) + 2 staff at SDSC who attended most sessions

2. Is it difficult to assess the performance/understanding of students at remote locations? Is it difficult to give them objective marks?

No more than for classes at home.

3. How many students in the current class do you recognize? (You can give me a percentage figure for the chance that you can match a name with a face, for example).

100%, finally

4. How do you communicate with students? What communication modes are essential? (Ex. ftp, email, phone, fax, office hours, picture tel).

video conference, e-mail, and ftp(I probably should have had video office hrs too)

5. How often do you communicate with the average student at a remote location? With an on-site student?

Hmmm... It seemed that I got e-mail about once in 2 weeks from each student, on average. Some much more, some hardly at all.

6. How does the level of one-on-one communication with students in this class compare with other courses you have taught?

It's not as good, but perhaps we all need practice. I felt it got easier near end of term. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have some student presentations earlier.

7. What are the benefits of distance learning from your perspective as a professor?

Being able to have a larger audience for a specialized course.

8. What are the minuses of distance learning from your perspective as a professor?

Video conferencing is hard when we don't know each other.

An improvement would be for me to occasionally (once maybe)go to each of the other sites and give the day's seminar from there.

9. Have you ever employed a research assistant from a remote site?

I currently have three research assistants who live in field locations.

10. Why did you decide/desire to teach this course?

To try to foster a little more sense of community among graduate students associated with colleagues on other campuses.

11. What aspects of the course would you change if you were to offer it again?

Some mentioned earlier...

A round of student presentations early in quarter.

I go to remote sites for some of the lectures.

An occasional guest lecture (but not too many--I've discovered students like continuity).

Better preparation of lectures on my part.

12. What resources (specific data, software, hardware, computing accounts) do you expect students in the current course to have access to in order to complete the course? Did you have to make any special arrangements for any students? Are there any students without access to essential resources? (anyone without email, postscript printer, data, software, hardware?)

Postscript is not as uniform as we would all like.

I was unaware that Berkeley students had no access to color printer.

Would like to distribute lectures in native format too, but I used 3 different formats myself (LaTeX, Perspecta, PowerPoint).

13. How many global change models should students have been exposed to by the end of course?

Classes of models...

Global climate with coupled ocean

Atmospheric chemistry

Regional hydrologic

14. Please give any additional comments . . .

I will try this again next year.


Notes

[1] See "Tulsa, Are You There? -Distance Learning Goes Where the Students Are". Connections. Fall Issue, 1993.

[2]The recent Spring '94 "Impact of New Information Technologies: Multimedia and Networks" speakers series coordinated by Professor Howard Besser and sponsored by the UCB School of Journalism and the School of Library and Information Studies featured many points of view on the benefits of distance learning technologies. Two of the speakers presented models/case studies of K-12 distance learning. Many of the speakers referred to distance learning technologies and their role in the proposed National Information Infrastructure.

One of the speakers, Rob Kling, asked the audience to examine the way in which technologically utopian analyses have dominated the popular discourse regarding future developments in professional discourse. In a draft of a paper Kling made available to Besser's class, he comments on how "empirically oriented accounts which examine the ways that faculty and students actually work with computing are much less common and also less commonly seen and read by scholars, computer professionals, and policy makers."* This paper is an attempt to redress the imbalance Kling identifies. My aim is to provide a look at how graduate students and their professor using distance learning perceived the positive and negative aspects of the technologies.

*See Kling and Lamb, Conceptualizing Electronic Publishing and Digital Libraries to appear in Academia and Electronic Publishing: Confronting theYear 2000. Eds. Robin M. Peek, Lois Lunin, Gregory Newby, and Gerald Miller).

[3] I have presented the questionnaire responses as I received them, editing only for distracting typing/spelling errors and deleting only unrelated personal communications that accompanied some of the responses. I have altered the names and email addresses of student respondents to protect their privacy.

[4 ] It is my understanding now that Professor Stonebraker was listed as co-instructor for administrative registration purposes only. He did not participate as an instructor during the course. I believe he did act as a continuing advisor to at least one of the UCB CS students.

[5] The Sequoia 2000 research project links computer science and earth science. A external research project of Digital Equipment Corporation, Sequoia 2000 is a UC multi-campus collaboration. The UC co-principal investigators are Earth scientist, Jeff Dozier from UCSB and computer scientist, Mike Stonebraker from UCB. Other partners in the project include Government agencies like the California Resources Agency, NASA, NOAA, USA CERL, and USGS. Other industrial participants are Hughes, NCSC, SAIC, Siemens, TRW, AVS, Epoch, Exabyte, HP, MCI, Metrum, Montage, Picture Tel, and RSI.

The Sequoia 2000 research project explores computing challenges faced by earth scientists who deal with large, heterogeneous datasets and need to better integrate data management and analysis, as well as to access remote data as easily as local data. Teleconferenced seminars allow Sequoia 2000 participants to share their research. Members of Professor Dozier's class were invited to attend these seminars where we saw presentations given by numerous project participants from earth science, computer science and industry. In this paper I refer to picture-tel sessions associated with the Sequoia seminars -where the speakers varied, as well as to picture-tel sessions associated with Professor Dozier's class.


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