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    Professors Jump into Streaming Media
    by Grover Saunders,
    Media Trainer

    This summerís Online Course Initiative, sponsored by the Center for Instructional Technology, introduced JMU faculty to a new teaching tool called Tegrity.  Several instructors are already using the system in the online components of their courses.

    As distance and distributed learning becomes an increasing part of the modern university experience, educators are faced with the challenge of giving their students the full classroom experience in an online environment.  Not only does this require new teaching skills, but technical skills as well. The goal of the Tegrity system is to make the process of converting in-class teaching into online teaching as seamless as possible.

    Some professors are recording lectures and posting them on the internet.  Others are producing short, self-contained learning modules that can be used over and over.  Instructors in the Music department are even using Tegrity to display portions of sheet music while the music audio plays, synchronized with the image.

    Tegrity consists of both hardware and software that allows an instructor to capture their lectures, including PowerPoint slides and notes on a whiteboard, and easily convert them into self-contained streaming media presentations that can be viewed on the internet. The finished product includes video and audio of the instructor with the PowerPoint presentation slide synchronized together. Presentations can be uploaded directly to the web, or the instructor can edit and fine-tune the presentation using the editing software. This allows the student to see the instructor in his or her native environment (the classroom), and frees the instructor from having to double his or her workload when teaching the same class both in person and online.

    Tegrity also enables professors to make full recordings of their lectures available to students at any time over the internet.  For example, a professor in Information Security is recording each on-campus lecture and uploading them as a resource for his distance learning students.  Of course, on-campus students also benefit from being able to review the lectures online.

    Tegrity has two unique features of its hardware that make it stand out. One is the integrated display tablet that allows the instructor to write directly on the screen of the system, enabling the instructor to point out key terms, highlight certain passages, or even work out complex formulas that would be difficult to represent with a keyboard.  These markings appear in real time in the completed presentation.

    Secondly, Tegrity has the ability to turn any standard dry erase board into a smartboard, allowing the instructor to interact with his or her PowerPoint presentation directly from the board instead of going back and forth to the computer. The system can capture markings made with a standard dry erase and include them electronically in the presentation.

    Portable Tegrity systems are available in Zane-Showker Hall and in CISAT, and can be wheeled into any classroom or office in those buildings. A stationary unit is also housed in the basement of Carrier Library; this unit includes a backdrop, professional lighting, and a high quality camera. Training on the systems is encouraged, as some details for setting up and using the system can be tricky.  For more information about the systems or to schedule training in the Center for Instructional Technology, you can contact Grover Saunders at 8-3572 or by email at saundebn@jmu.edu. You can also see demos of the finished product on the Tegrity website.

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