In a business environment, video conferencing can be applied easily to distance based meetings. The cost/benefit and protocols for this use of the technology are clear and easily defended. A characteristic of education is the varied pedagogical approaches of teachers. In an educational environment, video conferencing may be used for teacher led distance education initiatives ( similar to the typical business scenario). However, many other scenarios may occur, from "one on one" teacher/student dialogue, to "many on many" student led discussions. This creates new and previously unforeseen problems which are unique to the teaching domain, and in many cases go beyond the designers original remit for the technology.
These education specific characteristics of video conferencing equate to a set of skills and knowledge which have not been necessary before. New expertise must be presented in a rational, untechnical manner to avoid the technology driven situation, which past experience shows to be less than useful (Bates, AW. 1991, Kling, R. 1983). If video conferencing is to enhance education, then it must be used appropriately and within context. It is necessary not only to examine the areas where video conferencing can be used effectively, but also to highlight its inefficient uses where found.
Video conferencing using current ISDN technology is addressed. This study concentrates on single, point to point, local and remote services, rather than multi-point systems. This document does not cover broadband, broadcast quality teleconferencing, satellite communication, or analogue Plain Old Telephone Systems (POTS) telephone transmissions.
In typical education scenarios, there may be no support staff (studio managers, technicians) present during conferencing, and that users may have little or no technical experience. Typical scenarios include desktop conferencing between two sites where each site may have one or more active participants, where both sites are actively involved in dialogue or discussions.
The reviews undertaken are in no way exhaustive. They were performed to a strict time limit and therefore the authors had to be selective with source material. The conclusions made, however, do point towards areas for future research and training to address.
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