Fort Hays State University's online students will now have a better chance to interact with their professors because of a partnership that allows teachers to give Internet presentations as if they were in a classroom.
FHSU's Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technology (CTELT) partnered with sofTV.net, a company based out of Ottawa, Ontario, to produce a model interactive online course for FHSU.
Until FHSU joined with sofTV.net, the university had been using WebLearner, a cart system from Tegrity incorporated, to allow professors to put audio with PowerPoint presentations so that presentations could be streamed to students. But, because of the cart's size, it was hard to send all over and was not that easy to use.
So CTELT started to look for something that would do what they wanted and that would work with what already existed at the university.
"Originally, they (sofTV.net) had a partnership with Real Networks, and we had a Real server on campus, so we were looking for a product that would work with it," said David Renteria, web course developer for CTELT. "Real was selling an older version of the software through the company but it didn't even do close to what the new version can do so we just went directly to sofTV.net and said this sounds kind of like what we need."
SofTV.ShowAndTell, the program that FHSU is beta testing, will allow adjunct faculty who are teaching online courses from off campus to add content to their course by using PowerPoint and a microphone. With ShowAndTell it will take no extra training to learn how to operate as long as the professor knows how to run PowerPoint.
The online presentations are created at a click of a button at the beginning; the presentation is given normally with all audio included. When it is finished, with one click of a button the presentation will be online and everything will be done.
" Really it is just a tool to put in our little tool box," said Dennis King, director of CTELT. "As we develop courses and we come across faculty who are in Ohio or Arizona and they want to add content to their course, this is a piece of software that we can send to them that will let them do their presentation so that students can view them. "
"And to be honest," said King "they used one of those tricks in advertising; it wasn?t exactly what it pretended to be. It didn?t do exactly what we wanted it to do."
ShowAndTell is supposed to work effectively on anything ranging from networks down to 56k modems but, according Renteria, "It works fine on a network. Its just not great for dialup."
"So our piece of working with them will be making their next version flexible and easy to use over dialup," said King.
"A model online course will hopefully be done in January," said King. "But we can't say what course it will be until the product is 56k modem compatible."
"They have already sent me a couple of fixes and it is already working better on dialup, " said Renteria. "They are making progress."
"It's nice to have these partnerships," said King, "because not only does it help promote the university down the road but it gives us experience and it also gives us ideas as we work on different things down here about what we should be looking for."