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Providing Knowledge at a Distance: Canned vs. Live

Ravi Patel, an instructional designer for Penn State World Campus, is interested in bridging the distance gap between instructors and students by using various communication approaches for teaching and learning.

Ravi Patel, instructional designer for Penn State World Campus
Ravi Patel, instructional designer for Penn State World Campus

Course design teams work with instructors to create materials in advance since we know that not everyone enrolled in the course has the time in their schedule to meet synchronously. Many of these materials are voice-over PowerPoints or podcasts of lectures. There are also informal assessments, which help students keep track of how well they are learning the material. We call this a “canned” approach.

In other cases, instructors may use online collaboration and web conferencing tools such as Elluminate Live! to provide an engaging, synchronous experience for the students. In these virtual sessions, students are able to interact with their instructor and classmates through the sharing of materials, comments, and questions. We call this a “live” approach.

Which do you prefer? Canned or Live?

We would love hearing if you prefer “canned” or “live” in your course menu. Perhaps you enjoy a combo platter! Please take this poll and let us know your thoughts. Comments are welcome!


About Ravi — Working with Information Sciences and Technology and Homeland Security, he uses his secondary classroom teaching experience and knowledge of instructional design to team with faculty and multimedia specialists, creating dynamic online courses that use various approaches to ensure learner success. Ravi’s professional experience includes participation in a research team focusing on gaming, simulations, and virtual worlds and how they can be applied to education.