Student Satisfaction: A Distance Learning Model for Training Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments in New York State. Research Report

July 29, 2005

Abstract: Since 1920, the Hadley School for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois, has provided distance learning (via correspondence courses) to individuals who are visually impaired (that is, are blind or have low vision) and their families to support the acquisition of specialized skills and to attain the knowledge needed for full participation in life (Wolffe, 2001). Although distance learning has been in existence since 1920, its application to the preparation of teachers is more recent. A variety of models of distance education are implemented throughout the country. The model used for this study was video teleconferencing. The video teleconferencing model gave the faculty, onsite students (at Hunter College), and students at the remote site (Genesee Community College) the ability to interact with each other simultaneously and to discuss course content and materials. At the end of both the fall and spring semesters, the onsite and remote-site students were asked to complete a form, entitled Student Evaluation of Distance Learning, which consisted of 10 questions using a Likert-type scale, ranging from 1 to 4 (strongly agree to strongly disagree), with statements regarding the experience each student encountered during each course. In the fall semester, the technical difficulties that occurred were related to audio and visual connections between the two sites. At the end of the fall semester and before the start of the spring semester, the technology at the Hunter College site was upgraded with new cameras and audio equipment that provided echo cancellation on every microphone in the room. This audio upgrade contained components that matched the equipment at the Genesee site and provided for increased compatibility. In the spring semester, each class was analyzed individually. In general, it appeared that the technology improved between the fall 2000 and the spring 2001 semesters, but that the quality of the auditory output was still an issue for the remote-site students.

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