New Jersey Institute of Technology is the grateful recipient of a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation which has enabled it to explore the use of asynchronous learning networks to create and deliver an entire undergraduate degree program in computer and information science. Each of these courses uses some amount of lecture-type material delivered via videotape. These materials are usually available to students in three different ways: by viewing broadcasts on a New Jersey cable station, by renting the set of videotapes, or by viewing in a special room in the library. Videotapes for distance learning are not new and are not, in themselves, a very effective means of delivery. The innovative part of this project is the Virtual Classroom™ which is a specially tailored set of features embedded in New Jersey Institute of Technology's computer conferencing system, EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System). This makes possible a rich interchange and collaboration among students and faculty as they discuss and work through the problems and concepts in a course.
As of the spring of 1995, both the B.A.I.S and the B.S.C.S. are available to distance and oncampus students. Teaching in a Virtual Classroom mixed with other media (such as video or CD ROM) is not simple however. The purpose of the enclosed descriptions of experiences by faculty members is to familiarize prospective teachers using this media mix in the future with both some ideas for how to organize their online activities, and knowledge of problems that have been encountered. The faculty members were given a suggested outline of topics to include in their reports, but otherwise were free to include whatever they thought would be of most use to other faculty members in the future, teaching the same or similar courses.
Those who are interested in learning more about teaching and learning in ALN environments are referred to two book-length treatments: Starr Roxanne Hiltz, The Virtual Classroom: Learning Without Limits via Computer Networks (Ablex, Norwood NJ, 1994); and Linda Harasim, Starr Roxanne Hiltz, Lucio Teles and Murray Turoff, Learning Networks: A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online (MIT Press, 1995)
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Computerized Conferencing & Communications Center; Hiltz, Starr Roxanne; Scher, Julian M.; Bieber, Michael; and Turoff, Murray, "Teaching upper level computer science courses via virtual classroom and video : course reports by faculty" (1995). Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center Reports. 30.