Factors of Distraction in a One-Way-Video, Two-Way-Audio Distance Learning Setting

Briggs, Lowell A., and G. Dale Wagner. “Factors of Distraction in a One-Way-Video, Two-Way-Audio Distance Learning Setting.” PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning 6 (1997): 67-75.

Published in 1997, this one is pretty outdated, particularly considering that Briggs and Wagner are citing works that were relatively contemporary at the time, but precede their work by 10 or more years. That said, there are a number of excellent points made in this article that are either directly relevant or can at least be modified in such a way as to make them applicable to the topic of online video use in distance classrooms.

The authors studied learner distraction in one-way-video, two-way-audio distance learning. In other words, it was a live instructor with students in a classroom that was being televised to 3 other locations with students who could watch the instructor, but could only respond via audio, and could not be seen.

While I will not delve into it too deeply, I think it will be important to address in my studies the topic of distractions in the use of the online video conversation (OVC) in the asynchronous distance classroom. For example, there are more distractions when at home, both internally (motivation and the temptation to multi-task while watching) and external (family, pets, phone/door, etc.). Of course there is also the distraction that stems from the quality of the audio, video, signal strength, etc. Through the time that I have been using this technology in the classroom, there are inevitably students with inferior cameras or other technological issues that produce bad sound or visual. Also, if one is using a slow connection, the video will be not be smooth. This can affect learning (comprehension and retention), although that is not a point that I will address in my research.

Briggs and Wagner cite various authors that present and support the idea that learner satisfaction is extremely important in the quality of learning. For example, Biner, Dean, & Mellinger suggest that high learner satisfaction can result in better retention referrals of others to the class, motivation, commitment, and learning. Even a statement from as far back as 1989 calls “learner-learner interaction via audio teleconferencing valuable and sometimes essential in ‘a new dimension to distance education,’ that will be a challenge to our thinking in the 1990s.” Over twenty years later, we’re witnessing the widespread use of interactive video in the classroom and it is still clearly important to have that learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction. The authors reference Smeltzer and Vance (1989) as suggesting their occurs “a loss of nonverbal stimulation, interactive spontaneity, and nonverbal feedback cues when the sender and receiver cannot see each other during the audiographic teleconferencing process.” So, this is a very important aspect of the use f online video: that it provides that visual element. Finally, Fulfurd and Zhang’s research revealed that “learner satisfaction is greater when at least the interpersonal interaction is present in a distance learning environment.

Biner, Paul M.; Dean, Raymond S.; Mellinger, Anthony E. “Factors underlying distance learner satisfaction with televised college-level courses.” American Journal of Distance Education 8.1 (1994). 28 Jan. 2010

Fulford, Catherine P.; Zhang, Shuqiang. “Perceptions of Interaction: The critical predictor in distance education” American Journal of Distance Education 7.3 (1993). 28 Jan. 2010.

Smeltzer, Larry R.; Charles M. Vance. “An Analysis of Graphic Use in Audio-graphic Teleconferences.” Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 26, No. 2, 123-141 (1989).

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