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Columbia Video Network Advances into Next Generation of Distance Learning

By Joseph Kennedy

CVN's studio delivers real-time course lectures to students in more than 30 countries.

Students at Columbia Video Network (CVN), the highly rated distance learning program at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, now have the option of fully downloadable course lectures. After six months of beta testing, CVN launched the new format for the Summer 2003 semester, becoming one of the first such programs to offer this breakthrough in distance learning technology.

"We developed downloadable lectures to further CVN's mantra of 'anytime, anywhere' untethered access," says Grace Chung, executive director of CVN. "The majority of CVN students are working professionals, and their job responsibilities can take them away from home for extended periods of time. They may not always have broadband access in remote hotels and office locations."

Course lectures are packaged into self-extracting, executable files for easy download by registered students. Each downloadable lecture contains between 30 and 160 minutes of course instruction and can vary in size from 50 to 100 megabytes. Students with laptops have already begun to reap the benefits of this new delivery medium by viewing their courses while commuting or on business trips. Over the full program, this means access to more than 320 hours of course instruction.

"This frees students from having to connect to the Internet for long periods in order to attend classes. Once they download the lecture, they can view it whenever and wherever they want, through commonly available software applications. They can also create markers to add class notes, and fast forward and reverse to review material without the time delays that occur with network connections," explains Al Shahjahan, associate director of production, CVN.

CVN offers MS degrees in several graduate specialties of engineering. Lectures, course materials, class notes, homework assignments and syllabi are all available online. Students submit assignments via fax or the Web. Instructors, in turn, use web-based tools to view and grade those submissions online as well, allowing the student ease of access to feedback and assessments to their coursework, an integral part of the learning process.

CVN has won Forbes magazine's rating as the best distance learning program for the past three years in a row. Forbes calls CVN "a top notch program with the bonus of a prestigious name."

CVN handles 1,500 registrations per academic year, with students hailing from across the United States and nearly 30 foreign countries. Distinguished by the highest academic standards, CVN also stands apart from other distance learning programs by its use of technology to enhance the remote student's learning experience.

For Summer 2003, CVN offered a roster of nearly 100 courses. This was made possible in part because of a copyright pending software program called OASIS, developed in-house by members of the CVN staff. The software enables CVN to convert and encode recorded lectures, slides and class notes quickly and easily into a three-framed presentation with no post-editing or processing by staff members. Click to view additional information about OASIS.

"CVN was a successful distance learning program long before the Internet made online learning possible. As educational needs change, CVN will always change and grow to meet those needs. Although new technologies enable us to give students the very best service, the quality of Columbia's curriculum is really the key to our success," Chung notes.

Published: Jul 14, 2003
Last modified: Jul 15, 2003


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