It has been another busy few months with a range of events, projects and speaking commitments. I think it is useful for me to take the opportunity to highlight a few of these.
An event on this topic was held in December organised by the British Universities Film and Video Council. A report on it is included in this issue. It was a useful meeting which looked at one aspect of a continuum of provision of graphic resources which ranges from still images and designs through to virtual worlds.
There have been a number of SIMA reports relating to video conferencing. These reports gave me the basis for considering the role of video conferencing in higher education at the recent ACN/UKERNA Network Strategy Conference.
It is clear that video conferencing does have a role to play in higher education. It has possibilities for teaching students remotely, and some sites are doing this where teaching takes place on more than one site. Unless interaction plays a part (and it does this less frequently than it ought) it may be no better than a video of a lecture, which has the merit of being able to be viewed at any time. There may however be benefits to students at distributed sites in gaining access to different lecturers (and there are case studies of this) or to students at home who for one reason or another are unable to attend lectures.
Using video conferencing for helpdesk situations has been seen to have some merit. Another area where it has potential is for meetings (especially those where there is more travel time than meeting time). We all need to learn new meeting skills if we are to take advantage of the technology.
Researchers can also extend their contacts through video conferencing and associated shared applications and whiteboards. Research conferences can also take place across video links allowing more people to participate. A report of the recent Advanced BroadBand Communications Summer School held at 18 geographically separated sites (5 of which were main sites with speakers) can be seen in SIMA report 30 (contact me for a copy).
JISC are looking to provide infrastructure to support video conferencing to include gateways between different technologies and support services through UKERNA. It is essential that we all become more familiar with the technology and with its potential if we are to take advantage of this.
The Virtual Reality Modelling Language for the WWW has been the subject of a recent UK meeting and an international editing meeting. Progress is being made to improve the description of the specification through the ISO standardisation process.
I have just fixed the dates for 2 events, Facilities for Multimedia teaching, 28 April 1997 and Graphics, visualization and social sciences, 8 -9 May 1996.
Contact me for details.