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The Use of Videoconferencing in Higher Education

Executive Summary

This report documents the results of a survey of managers and users of videoconferencing in higher education. It discusses the results in the context of a previous survey conducted in 1994 with the aim of providing a longitudinal picture of videoconferencing use.

The survey used two main data collection methods; electronic mail questionnaire and field site investigations of 5 user sites which included interviews with managers and users. A telephone interview with a representative of UKERNA (UK Education and Research Networking Association) also contributed to the data collected.

Information is provided about the technical aspects of videoconferencing as it is currently used (e.g. network, systems, software), applications of videoconferencing, management structures and procedures (including mechanisms for policy making, financial management, etc.) and finally the subjective views of the users and managers of videoconferencing. The picture is contrasted with that of 18 months ago where appropriate and tentative patterns of videoconference use are suggested.

The report concludes that the main lessons that have been learned in the last 18 months are:

A polarisation of predicted growth was reported pointing to a) desk-top videoconferencing and b) large scale videoconferencing (particularly for teaching purposes) as being the likely expansion areas..

It was concluded that success of videoconferencing (particularly for studio or room-based systems) was to a large extent dependent on management which requires a great diversity of skills and experience, often spanning the expertise of several academic departments or service groups.

The future of videoconferencing in higher education looks to be assured with new networks planned along with greater ISDN connectivity.

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