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Tele-Tutoring Will Allow UVa. Teachers & Students to Keep in Touch -- Virtually

From Inside UVA
June 9, 1995

Many students won't have to leave home to meet with instructors, tutors or discussion groups when Computer Science Professor Jorg Liebeherr's Grounds-wide Tele-Tutoring System (gwTTS) goes on line late this year.

Electronic Office Hours, the real-time tutoring sessions over an electronic network, is one of four programs Mr. Liebeherr will develop in the pilot phase of gwTTS, thanks to a teaching and technology fellowship.

For faculty and teaching assistants, what Mr. Liebeherr called "the notion of tele-presence" will mean more efficient use of instructional time and the ability to wield an array of educational tools including video tapes at a computer workstation to reach students throughout the area.

It'll take just a phone call to link gwTTS to participants' desktop computers, which will then display live images of tutor and student plus a whiteboard that shows notations as they're made by either person. Except for the small-screen focus, it will be as if the discussion is face-to-face rather than by an electronic link between offices, homes and dormitories.

Other gwTTS programs being developed for potential

  • Virtual classrooms: An instructor lecturing from a computer workstation to students at desktops in various locations will be able to use motion video, voice, data displays and graphical images as teaching tools. Students can ask questions and discuss points with the instructor, and the entire class can follow the exchange.
  • Digital video broadcasts of lectures: Talks given to students and others in a traditional classroom setting will be recorded on digital video tape, which can be transmitted at any time to any desktop computer equipped to receive gwTTS transmissions.
  • Remote study groups: Students will be able to use a network of desktop computers to discuss a project, using their gwTTS capabilities to work together on the whiteboard display and share voice, video and data materials.
  • Need special hardware and software to transmit and receive the range of materials used in gwTTS programs, but Mr. Liebeherr expects to equip the average unit for a few hundred dollars. Equipment and systems already available at the University will be used to keep costs down, he explained.
  • A prototype of gwTTS is scheduled to be completed this summer, and by the end of the year, Mr. Liebeherr and his team hope to have completed field tests and installation at selected points throughout the Grounds. Two professors in the Department of English, Jerome McGann and Michael Levenson, are interested in using gwTTS and will offer information and ideas to help in the design of the system, he noted.


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