Video conferencing links two or more locations together with live audio and pictures.
- Point-to-point: 2 locations
- Multipoint: 3 or more locations linked via a ‘bridge’
Traditionally video conferencing has required specialist equipment, but computer based personal video conferencing (such as that in Skype, MSN/Office Communicator and to an extent, Elluminate) is often sufficient for conferences with a smal number of participants at each location. For activities involving whole classes of students the more specialist facilities tend to be more appropriate.
Video conferencing allows for two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. It was not designed as a method for educating the masses. Video conferencing is an intimate method of communication on an individual or small group basis. It does not replace the use of print or other methods used in the learning process. Its true use lies in encouraging dialogue and increasing the scope for dialogue. It eliminates expensive travel and makes the best use of limited time. It allows genuine dialogue between all participants and allows immediate, full two way communication of content - verbal, pictorial objects etc. It provides a sense of social presence (Coventry, 1996).
- Plan the session carefully –everyone knowing what’s going to happen reduces anxiety levels
- Distribute materials before class – you can’t simply hand out bits of paper.
- Set up and ‘frame’ yourself – not too close (it’s too intimidating) and not too far away (it’s hard to engage if they can’t see your face. Frame yourself as if you are a newsreader.
- Wear strong colours – so the remote students can easily identify you as the teacher.
- Do lots of listening – remember, students get as much from knowing you’ve heard them than from hearing what you say.
- Make an ‘interruption protocol’ available.
- Get participants involved by asking questions, encouraging discussion, or setting group-work tasks. These can be local (i.e. off-line) or across several sites (i.e. online).
- Plan for a variety of activities to provide a regular change of pace.
- Plan interactive tasks that are meaningful in terms of the lesson and educationally useful.
- Build in pauses to ask for feedback. Include some interaction, such as question and answer or discussion sessions.
Practice giving clear feedback that you’re paying attention:
- Visually: nod, smile, and if possible place the camera above the monitor so that you appear to be looking at the speaker.
- Verbally: for multi-point conferences you may not always be visible.
- Forget that you’re on camera and try to keep things as natural as possible.
- Allow time for local groups to talk and for cross-site introductions, or leave on-air time for coffee and chat.
- Make sure there is a teacher or facilitator at each site, at least at the beginning or for first use.
- Spend time at the beginning introducing the lecturers, facilitators and the students, especially if you are planning group working.
- Talk too much or too fast
- Wear ‘loud’ patterns
- Create a remote lecture - this is the least effective use of videoconferencing for teaching. Its main use is where a visiting expert could not otherwise deliver a presentation.
- Moving around too much, this may cause problems for remote viewers.
- Move the microphone without muting it first – it’s really noisy at the other end if you don’t.
- Have bright lights within the ‘shot’ (such as bright windows or overhead lights) as this can make the system crash.
Types of Teaching and Learning Session Suitable for Video-Conferencing:
- Mini-lecture Incorporating PowerPoint
- Q&A sessions
- Structured discussion/activity
- Role play
Synchronous 2 hour seminar Suitable for between 2 – 5 groups Learning objectives for the class:Understanding the issues surrounding a controversial event where there were multiple groups of ‘key players’ involved and seeing how this reflects on how the discipline that is being studied Method: Prior to the session: Distribute prior reading for all students to undertake so that they all have a shared knowledge of the events surrounding the controversy.
During the Session:
|Tutor to give a mini-lecture about the controversy and why it is important to understand it further||10 mins|
|Set up the ‘role play’ dividing up the classes and locations into small groups which are each given an ‘identity’ to take into the role play.||5 mins|
|Break Videoconference link to allow students to undertake further research and preparation on their ‘identities’.||45 mins|
|Rejoin videoconference link and run a ‘town meeting’ with the tutor as the ‘chair’. Bring in three questions one at a time which the town meeting needs to address. Open the floor to each group in turn (as relevant) to address the issues one at a time.||50 mins|
|Out of character, reflecting on what has just taken place giving each location a chance to offer thoughts on what they’ve learned and an opportunity to synthesise this back into the key learning objectives for the class.||10 mins|
Follow up activity: Have students write a reflective analysis of the event in a personal blog or learning journal.
Useful Links to Websites or Resources:
Video Conferencing in Higher Education Dr Lynne Coventry:
Video Conferencing in UK Further and Higher Education: Techlearn funded by JISC:
Videoconferencing for Teaching and Learning – Case Studies:
References to Scholarly Articles:
Burke, C., Lundin, R., & Daunt, C. (1997). Pushing the boundaries of interaction in videoconferencing: A dialogical approach. Distance Education, 18(2), 350-364.
Carr, J., Gannon-Leary, P., Allen, B., Beattie-Huggan, P., cMurray, A., & Smith, N. (2008). Eyes, ears and technology: An evaluation of the use of video-conferencing in BPR workshops. Business Process Management Journal, 14(4), 569-587.
Carville, S., & Mitchell, D. R. (2000). 'It's A Bit Like Star Trek': The Effectiveness of Video Conferencing. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 37(1), 42-49.
Coventry, L. Video Conferencing in Higher Education [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 03/03/09 from http://www.agocg.ac.uk/reports/mmedia/video3/video3.pdf
Crawford, L., Sharpe, L., Gopinathan, S., Chun, H., Ngoh, M. S., & Wong, A. (2002). Multipoint Desktop Video Conferencing in Teacher Education: preliminaries, problems and progress. Asia–Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 30(1).
Freeman, M. (1998). Video conferencing: a solution to the multi-campus large classroom problem? British Journal of Educational Technology, 29(3), 197-210.
Grant, M. M., & Cheon, J. (2007). The Value of Using Synchronous Conferencing for Instruction and Students. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(3), 211-226.
Taylor, S. I., & Hsueh, Y. (2005). Implementing a Constructivist Approach in Higher Education through Technology. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 26, 127-132.