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Chapter 3 Survey of Users of Videoconferencing in Higher Education


Design and distribution of the questionnaire

A questionnaire was designed to investigate the use of videoconferencing within higher education. Respondents were asked to give details of the equipment they are using, together with their opinions of that equipment. A picture of current usage patterns was obtained, along with predictions for future uses of the technology and advice for potential users of videoconferencing.

The questionnaire was distributed mainly in e-mail format. It was posted on a number of mailing lists concerned with human-computer interaction, multimedia products, flexible learning and staff development, in addition to AGOCG’s own lists. Further responses were obtained from existing contacts (gained from HUSAT’s many years of experience in this area) and from other candidates suggested by respondents.

What follows is not a statistical analysis; rather it is a summary of the responses.

A copy of the questionnaire is given in Appendix 5.

Number and source of responses

The majority of the 26 responses came from Computing, Psychology and Audio-Visual Departments within a wide range of UK Universities (including Manchester, Liverpool, Loughborough, York, Essex, Nottingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Plymouth). Other sources were UK and US manufacturers, and Universities in Australia and Finland.

The job titles of respondents included: Researchers, Lecturers and Professors; Sales and Marketing Directors and a large number of Computing staff (e.g. Heads of Computing, Senior Programmers, Graphics Managers, Systems Consultants, Multimedia Support Staff and Network Development Officers).

Their fields of interest were mainly in the areas of Computing and Advanced Communications (e.g. Programming, Networking, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), Distributed Systems, Persistent Object Systems, Graphics, Multimedia and Image Processing]. There were also responses from those interested in higher education innovations, such as Distance Learning. and Telematics for Education and Training. Other specialist interests included Astronomy, Computer forensics and Diagrammatic interaction.

Equipment in use

Probably the most important point to make about the equipment currently in use is its sheer variety. A wide spectrum of manufacturers is represented, and the range and scale of configurations and locations for the equipment is considerable. This variety is particularly apparent when compared with the results of a similar survey conducted in the commercial environment. Several respondents gave permission for details of their videoconferencing equipment to be appended to this report. These are given in Appendix 3.
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