The Role of Audiographics in Distance Learning

Distance learning offers great benefits, but it also has its limitations. One of these limitations is lack of face to face time with the instructor and the other students in the class. Fortunately, technology has come a long way in overcoming that obstacle in the form of audiographics. Audiographics merges two different technologies: a computer on either end and an audio conference. Voice transmission enables verbal communication while graphic material is displayed on a computer screen.

Using audiographics, the instructor communicates either by telephone or in some cases more sophisticated voice conferencing equipment. On the student’s end, graphic coursework materials are displayed on the CRT or computer terminal screen. This material is usually supplemental or used to clarify existing textbook or coursework materials. This enables it to function like the blackboard in a traditional classroom setting.

Audiographics falls into the category of the synchronous learning methodology. All this really means is that the instructor and the student are able to communicate in real time. The instructor verbalizes the lesson and displays visual material on the computer screen. At the same time the student can be interactive by asking questions or making relevant comments.

The effectiveness of the learning experience is overwhelmingly enhanced by the use of the computer screen as a display device. Prior to personal computers becoming as pervasive as they are today, distance learning communication was done using only the telephone. As you can imagine, the student tended to have concentration problems. Also, depending on the nature of the course, the concepts could be extremely difficult to convey and retain without the benefit of a graphic presentation.

The distance learning community has eagerly embraced audiographics for the many benefits it brings to the industry. For one thing, due to the advance of technology, particularly high speed Internet connections and minimal hardware requirements, set up and use are very simple. Also when the coursework changes over the course of the semester, as it inevitably does, communicating these changes to the student is simple. Audiographics also allows students to get a quality education even when there is no institution close by.

Of course, although audiographics has made tremendous strides, it is a continuously evolving technology. Notably, at this point the student may not have access to the same bandwidth capacity as the instructor, so the graphics remain simple at this point. Another point is that the graphics card in the student’s computer may not be able to handle graphics of high quality resolution.

To sum it up, the advent of audiographics has vastly improved the distance learning experience in both quality and effectiveness. Topics can be freely discussed back and forth between instructor and student. The use of the computer screen for displaying concepts that are hard to grasp verbally alone has made the experience similar to using a blackboard in the classroom. It is reasonable to predict that as computer hardware evolves in sophistication and more students have access to high speed bandwidth, distance learning will become more of a viable option for a growing number of students.

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