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Tips and Tutorials

The following are tutorial articles and Moodle-based courses located on this web site about distance learning (DL).  The level of instruction for educators will be: "computer phobic", "computer novice", "computer literate" (or competent), and "computer experts", assuming little or no in-depth technical knowledge and experience as computer programmers or system installers.

Future technical and procedural articles and tutorials about DL (and about ITS as well) will be addressed to: "systems administrators", "computer programmers", "computer systems designers", "computer science students" at the senior and graduate levels.  This information should also be useful to "computer working professionals" in a variety of sub-fields and to "computer science instructors".

Minimalist Web-Based Distance Learning (DL) for the 2010s

Minimalist Web-Based Distance Learning (DL) for the 2010s

Begun: 10.07.16

Those not so enthusiastic about the complicated, overly mysterious, and often confusingly ambiguous world of computers and computer assisted instruction, will tend to be "tentative" and "conservative" in adopting distance learning technologies -- and for good reasons!

Here are some high level, very general, steps that can be taken to provide static and partially-dynamic web pages as well as rudimentary audio and video lectures to your students:

  • Audio or Video Record classroom lectures and discussions... with analog or digital recording devices.
  • Do not plan, buy hardware and software, or add staff to edit these recordings.  What was recorded in the classroom is what the student gets to review when they "play back" the recording.  And that could be a problem for the faculty, students, and the administration.
  • Technical people convert any analog (e.g. magnetic tape) recordings to digital recordings, a.k.a. digital MP3 or MP4 etc. files for audio, WAV or AVI etc. files for video. (note to self: elaborate on the file formats elsewhere on this site.  Elaborate on the conversion methods, work-flows, and respective ranked software to use elsewhere on this site.)
  • Technical people install one or more audio and video stream server computers and the relevant audio stream serving and video stream serving software.
  • Test all of this and have the technical people learn to properly configure, maintain, and upgrade the hardware and software.
  • Store the digital copy of the audio and video recordings on these computers.  E.g. as of July 2010 a one terabyte hard-disk drive for a computer costs about $150 (US). A single suitable computer to be the web server computer, or web host, into which goes one or more of the "large storage capacity" hard-disk drives, costs about $500 (US).  But even cheaper computers will do the job for a small school or to server web pages as well as recorded audio and video content to a small number of students daily.
  • Identify and prepare "metrics", online and on-paper metric measuring methods (a.k.a. assessment) and the ways and means for "metric data analysis".
  • Test using the stored web pages, audio and video streams as if the testers were all typical online students in the institution's computer lab, or labs, or working at home on their own computer.
  • Test use your on-paper and on-line "assessment methods" and the data analysis.
  • When "ready", deploy (make available to the entire student population and the faculty) the learning content you have prepared.
  • Gather the "user satisfaction", "educational outcome" and other metric data over time.
  • At some "mile-stone" date and time, perform the "data analysis" on the gathered raw date, publish summary reports of it, and publish conclusions from the one or more analyses of and conclusions drawn from the analyzed data.
  • Decide if and how to update any or all of the above in your next "refinement cycle" of these methods, the hardware, the software, and the "end user educational experiences" which the assemblage creates.