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Students in Old Dominion University's new Instructional Design and Technology concentration within the Ph.D. in Education program, which begins this fall, will get an inside look at the effect of new technologies on learning. They will complete their degrees in the exact environment they will learn to build.

Using macromedia flash server and H.323 two-way video conferencing, students will experience a more flexible learning environment than that offered by traditional distance learning methods. The new technology allows for data collaboration and smoother audio and video communication between students located on the ODU campus and those at distance learning sites across the state, as well as those logging in from their home computers.

"People coming out of this program will be leaders in K-12, higher education, military and business in the development of quality distance education," said Richard Overbaugh, associate professor and director of instructional technology in ODU's Darden College of Education.

"A large component of the program is cognition and educational psychology--taking what we know about how people think and learn and then designing the instructional technology to match the two up," he continued.

The students' and faculty members' findings in this program will be of particular interest to those who create simulation programs for the military and business, as well as to teachers in K-12 and higher education who use the technology.

"We have a very good talent pool of people who look at the issues of instructional technology every day," said Andrew Casiello, assistant vice president for academic technology services. As one of the nation's largest providers of distance learning degree programs, ODU employs a staff of graphic designers, instructional designers and instructional technologists who work to ensure that all of the university's TELETECHNET courses run smoothly. "Our staff's job has been to make the program work for the 7,000 students who sign up for more than 25,000 courses per year. Now we are beginning to embark on research efforts within this new ID&T concentration that will inform and move our field forward," Casiello added.

ID&T will work with ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) to provide research opportunities for students and faculty, ranging from the modeling and simulation work with the military through VMASC's recently opened Battle Lab to biomedical simulation. "There are a lot of people who have technical expertise and are very good at what they do, but what's missing is the instructional design experience to put on top of that," said Casiello. "This is becoming even more important as the military and businesses move heavily into this area for education and training."

The Darden College of Education opened a research center in January to provide research on instructional technology to K-12 schools. The ID&T program will also partner with the Center for Learning Technologies (CLT) to provide real-world experience in all aspects of instructional design, development and delivery. CLT currently assists university faculty in designing instruction for distributed teaching/learning environments and recently served as a subcontractor for Northrop Grumman to create a blended instruction course for the Joint Professional Military Education Program at the Joint Forces Staff College, which is part of the National Defense University.

Construction of a new studio in ODU's Gornto TELETECHNET Center will be completed this fall. The seminar-style setting will feature a 50-inch plasma TV where on-site students can see all distance learning students during synchronous class time, as well as small LCD screens where both on-site and distance learning students and professors can collaborate and view the same data.

"The Ph.D. program does not have a residency requirement like most others. We're using the technology to fill in that gap," said Overbaugh. "We want to build an environment where students feel they know each other, which is very important in establishing an academic community in graduate work, while also offering asynchronous formats that present a chance for thought and reflection."

Two new faculty members have been hired to teach in the program: Gary Ray Morrison, a national figure in the instructional design field who was previously a professor of instructional technology at Wayne State University and Amy Adcock an adjunct professor of instruction and curriculum leadership and education research assistant from the University of Memphis.

For more information about the program contact Overbaugh at 683-4733 or roverbau@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: May 25, 2004

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