Satellite Education and Distance Learning

There is a new way for an instructor to teach either an individual or for that matter a class of students at a remote location. This is called e-learning and it holds great promise for the education of those who are not able to attend conventional classroom education. Satellite e-learning is a great instructional media for panel discussions, demonstrations, brainstorming, drilling, practicing, lectures or role playing.

The kind of learning environment this promotes is known as "synchronous," meaning two way. Also called distributed media, this BTV/IP (Business Television/Internet Protocol) has revolutionized the way education is conducted in some remote places.

The way e-learning works is that it uses Internet protocol (IP) for distribution and networking. The reason IP is so adaptable to this task is that it can bypass the concept of the WAN (Wide Area Network). One of the benefits of this arrangement is that remote students can attend the class by means of audio teleconferencing utilizing keypad and audio technology.

The really great advantage of satellite e-learning is that all the students in the class can participate with the class and the instructor. What’s different? Just the fact that all the participants are at different locations. The instructor can still present all the course materials via audiovisual channels.

Satellite e-learning is revolutionizing the distance learning community because no matter where they physically reside, the students can have their questions answered in real time rather than in the time it takes for a letter to go and return.

The advent of satellite e-learning has introduced technology that eliminates problems formally associated with bandwidth such as slow transmission and distorted images. These were physical limitations of the Internet.

As long as the remote locations have the ability to support the necessary equipment, there are no limitations to the number of students that can remotely receive multi media rich course work using satellite propagation technology. They simply need the proper equipment on their end.

The major stumbling block of e-learning is the infrastructure and technology needed to support it. Currently, it is very costly to support. It also has the requirement of continual support, which adds to the cost. It is capital intensive to plan and implement, and a physical location with all the necessary equipment must be established.

Not only is the equipment needed, but a broadcast engineer must be retained at all times to ensure the proper operation of all the equipment. The instructors must also be trained to deliver their lecture to a camera rather than an audience.

The remote locations that are the recipients of the satellite broadcasts (satellite downlinks) need the proper equipment to receive the data. Problems can arise on this end because the signal has to transverse a LAN (Local Area Network) prior to the student receiving it. This network must be configured properly.

Also, there is no flexibility of scheduling with satellite e-learning and for some, this what was attractive about distance learning to begin with. With satellite broadcasting, the students must be available at the same time that the broadcast is taking place.

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