There are three components in electronic distance education: audio/voice,
content material and video (in order of its importance). Experiences of
distance educators show, if these three components can be separately controlled
by students, they often cut out the instructor's video in order to concentrate
on hearing his/her voice and viewing and improving the delivery speed of
other content materials (e.g., text, graphs/diagrams, images, etc.). Given
these student preferences, shifting the delivery system to digital Internet
from analog -- and expensive -- cable television or satellite makes sense.
This shift also encourages use of advanced Web technologies to develop
superior instructional materials rather than reliance on talking-head style
presentations that resemble traditional lectures. Advanced Web technologies
are excellent vehicles for providing creative, experiential distance education.
For example, Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) holds substantial
promise as a simulation environment for instructional delivery via the Web.
In particular, the ability to model molecules, chemical compounds, biological
structures and physical phenomena in three dimensions offers a level of
interaction and visualization that is usually not possible with traditional
laboratory equipment. The high speed, broad-band Internet approach combines
the advantages of advanced Web technologies with improved audio and video
quality at a reduced cost, especially compared to Integrated Service Digital
Network (ISDN), cable television and satellite approaches. This approach
also allows for a "just-in-time," asynchronous, demand oriented,
two-way interactive, ancient Greek style small group mentor education system,
rather than a Hollywood style, one-way, broadcasting, instructional television,
mass education system.