Online Focus

U Colorado Classroom Capture Supports Distance Learning for Military

Soldiers in the United States military who want to take college courses while they're deployed overseas face some tough challenges. But they can also represent an attractive market for universities, especially those interesting in recruiting more business graduate school students to specific programs.

At the University of Colorado in Boulder, Senior Instructor Emeritus Gerald Mitchell has been using classroom capture technology to provide his remote military students with access to classes and content wherever and whenever they have the time. The program has allowed those students to keep up with classes by tailoring their course time, and thus their education, to the rigorous military schedules they face while deployed overseas.

Mitchell, who is the university's military liaison, has been recording all of his lectures for several years using Tegrity's class capture and playback program, now known as Tegrity Campus 2.0. The software arrangement allows any student in the masters-level interdisciplinary telecommunications program to view and listen to a class lecture later via the Internet. That's especially valuable to military graduate students--generally either captains or majors in the Army Signals Corps, Mitchell said--who may be deployed in locations anywhere in the world. The program, which requires that every student take an assortment of both technical and non-technical courses, results in either a master's of engineering or a master's of science in engineering degree.

With Tegrity, students on campus watch live in the classroom as Mitchell uses the system to record his lecture while he speaks, shows drawings and slides on the screen, and writes or draws on anything on the screen. It's all automatically recorded by Tegrity and posted automatically and almost immediately to the school's web site. Virtually any time later, students anywhere in the world can watch the same lecture online, complete with audio and video that includes markups made to the computer screen.

"I have military students who are located wherever their duty station is," Mitchell said, guessing that Germany is a likely location for many. With the class capture program in place, he pointed out, "the location doesn't make much difference."

Mitchell said he averages several military students per semester in the telecommunications program, and has taught "literally hundreds of military students in the last 20 years." He is currently planning a recruiting trip to military bases in an attempt to recruit more such students, whom he views as excellent assets to the university.

Mitchell, who can remember a time not so long ago when distance students were physically mailed a taped copy of a lecture, regards the Tegrity program as "just a more sophisticated way of doing things than in the past… I used to take a piece of paper and a marking pen, put it on the podium, write on it, and record that by camera [for the taped lecture]. We've graduated from there."

The key to attracting military students to a graduate program such as the one at UC, Mitchell said, is quality content, of course. What's also critical, he pointed out, is "a quality online learning program."

Earning a master's of engineering or a master's of science in engineering degree, he said, can be as big a plus for military students as civilian ones. "It enhances their career, it's a great learning program, and they learn something useful."

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About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at lbriggs@lindabriggs.com.

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