Information Technology

Instructional Television Best Practices

Teaching over Instructional Television (ITV) is similar to teaching face to face, but there are distinct differences. There are advantages to teaching on ITV and ways to enhance how materials are presented to your students. This is a list of the ideas, techniques, and common practices that work for successful ITV instructors.


In addition to all of the organizational tasks you normally do when teaching a course, you’ll need to be even more organized for teaching ITV. Materials must be distributed and assignments graded and returned before class (electronically through D2L works best).

Course Management Systems

Minnesota West Community and Technical College uses Desire to Learn (D2L) as its course management system. D2L is not just for teaching online courses. You can use D2L to post materials to the web site, communicate with students, foster discussion through the discussion forums, collect and return assignments through the dropbox, assess through the quiz tool, and provide grades in the gradebook feature.

To learn how you can support your ITV class with a D2L site, contact Kayla Westra ( You should also talk to other instructors who teach ITV on how they use D2L to enhance their courses.

Distributing Materials

In the early days of ITV, most materials were sent via courier. Today, you can still send materials through interoffice mail (which travels through the U.S. Postal Service). This is no longer the best method to send materials to students, but if you do send through the mail, be sure to

  • Clearly mark the envelope with course name, campus, your name, date and time and of class, and instructions for the campus support personnel (can material be distributed, should it be held until class time, etc.).

  • Send the materials early. You may want to send four or five days before needed to ensure it arrives and is in place when you need it.

  • Send enough copies for the location.

You can email materials to your students. As with sending materials via courier, be sure you give enough time for the students to access email and print materials. Give clear instructions for when and how the materials will be used.

Course Management System/D2L
The most effective way to move materials to ITV students is to use a course web site in D2L. You can post assignments, return assignments, list grades, and do many other functions within the site that save time. 

There are fax machines in the ITV studios. However, faxing is a last resort for sending materials to and from locations. Note that fax machines in the ITV studios will be phased out by the end of 2013.

Instructional Tips and Classroom Management

One of the most difficult aspects for most instructors is not having all of your students in the room with you. Do an attendance check/roll call every time your class meets. Seat assignments are used by some faculty. Engage students from other campuses in conversation and ask them questions. Look into the instructor camera – this will give you the sense that you are looking at the off campus students.

Switch presentation modes often for several reasons. Changing the students’ field of vision helps them stay focused. Additionally, especially if using a PowerPoint, you become a disembodied voice if you don’t switch to the instructor camera occasionally. When using PowerPoint, giving students a study guide to fill in (do not just give them your presentation) will also help them stay engaged in the learning process.

Remind students to identify themselves when addressing you from an off site location. When a student addresses you or the class, they should be reminded to identify themselves and their location. This includes those students in your local classroom.


While our ITV system runs very well and there are very few problems throughout the year, issues do happen and you should have a backup plan. Students should know how long to wait in the classroom should a technical glitch occur.

Additionally, use a web site in D2L and have students check there if a course gets interrupted. Most of your students will adjust to the situation and you will lose very little instructional time if you have a backup plan. The campus support person at your site will work with the other campus technicians to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.


To minimize problems, make it clear to the class what kinds of behavior will be tolerated. Some instructors insist on a seating chart for the remote sites and require all students to be within the view of the camera at all times. If you feel you have a situation that needs addressing, discuss it with the Campus Dean at the problem campus and ask that steps be taken to rectify the situation.

Visiting other campuses and teaching from different locations can aid in a smooth semester. The students at distance sites enjoy meeting the instructor face to face and the local students better understand what the distance sites have to deal with. Be sure to file an AskIt ticket if changing the "host" location for your class.


This section attempts to discuss a number of procedures for some of the logistical issues with ITV.

One of the most uncomfortable areas for some instructors using ITV is that they are not in the room when students are being tested.These are some of the options available to you.

  • Change your testing to more of a “take home” test or an open book type test.

  • D2L has a testing feature that allows you to set up tests that are accessible through the campus or a student’s Internet connection. The software allows for random question selection so no two tests are exactly the same, timed testing -students have access at a specific time, for a specific time, auto grading- the tests are graded for you. Students receive immediate feedback on any autograded question type (essays are not autograded, for example).

Test Proctoring: See test proctoring policy.

D2L: The most effective method for collecting classroom and out of classroom assignments is to use the features available in D2L (dropbox, in particular). Assignments turned in through D2L are time/date stamped and there is no danger of “lost” assignments (which often seems to happen with email).  Students are introduced to D2L at student orientation. In addition, there is Free non-credit course, Introduction to Online Learning available for all students to orientate them to these features.

Email/File attachments: Minnesota West students and instructors are provided a Minnesota West email account. Assignments can be delivered to you via this technology. If you accept assignments as electronic attachments, we recommend that you place course assignments in a specified folder within the email system and delete the folder or the contents at the end of each course.  Having assignments sent through email is not the recommended option.

Fax Machines: Fax machines should be used as a last resort for collecting materials from students. Courier or electronic (through D2L) are preferred methods of collection.

Odds and Ends
  • Prepare handouts for students whenever large amounts of material are being covered and have them delivered to the campus or posted in D2L in advance. Remember that handouts should be study guides or something students have to fill in.  Do not just send students your completed PowerPoint presentations.

  • Address your materials properly. Minnesota West hosts 25-30 classes each semester across the college. ALWAYS identify the class, the room, the time, instructor name, and any other relevant information whenever communicating with the campus support people.

  • Overheads/ELMO: paper copies of transparencies work best. Plastic reflects and is difficult for other sites to read.

  • Layout: A horizontal format with sans serif 24 point letters works the best for presentation of written material. Be sure any notes uploaded into D2L are optimized for printing (you do not need 24 point letters on a printout).

  • Presentations: Create a presentation using Power Point or on the Web. ITV classrooms are equipped with computers and Internet access.

  • Paper:  White or colored paper works when writing on the ELMO. Use a medium point pen and leave margins around copy.

  • Videos: Use video guides when watching videos to make this activity an active learning experience. Remember to utilize the streaming videos that are available (see the LARC staff), and also remember that these can be viewed outside of class time when appropriate.