A Carleton success story celebrates milestone

Right from the start, Carleton’s Instructional Television (itv) was destined to become much more than a video archive for students who overslept lectures or lived off campus. Its value as a distance-learning tool was recognized immediately, and 25 years on, itv has become almost indispensable for regular on-campus students as well as distance learners.

Broadcasting courses on cable TV networks and making video copies available often provide the support students need to graduate, especially during the years when demand for Carleton’s courses outstrips its on-campus space.

“I’ve heard ‘I just need this one last course to graduate’ many, many times over the years,” says Jeff Cohen, itv’s Coordinator of Technical Operations. “I don’t think it was ever about replacing courses, rather offering a service to students who couldn’t get instruction any other way.”

Originally, 80 percent of itv courses were taken by off-campus students; today that’s how many regular students use the service. Each year there are about 40 courses and between 8,000 and 15,000 course registrations, and those figures reach worldwide.

It has allowed former Faculty of Science Dean Peter Watson to teach “Introduction to University Physics” to African students via Virtual African University Project and has helped create an interactive study of the North American Free Trade Agreement among students at Carleton, Texas A&M University, and the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo, Mexico.

Memorial University was first in Canada to offer video courses, in 1967. When Carleton found a need to include distance learners in 1978, it targeted a regional audience as far away as Pembroke, Arnprior, and Renfrew. Students took to it immediately: At least 80 percent of users have ranked its services as excellent. Perhaps more telling, marks for itv students are the same or higher than those of in-class students.

It didn’t hurt that the program’s “Tapes To You” service would deliver lectures to the door. Rentals are steady at about 300-350 per term. Not surprisingly, demand tends to spike about two weeks before exams.

Last year itv and the Teaching & Learning Resource Centre were merged into the Educational Development Centre.

From – http://www.now.carleton.ca/2003-09/212.htm

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