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Evaluation of the Suitability of Distributed Interactive Videoconferencing for use in Higher Education

4 Conclusions and future requirements

4.8 Camera work

The camera work was overall very acceptable. Some sites made a special effort to present people on screen in more natural locations, i.e. seated beside a table with a 'clean' background rather than standing against a wall or in front of a display board. The general perception was that the more informal settings improved the ability of the participants to concentrate. The more 'severe' images lacked depth and definition which made it difficult to focus the attention for lengthy periods.

4.9 Screen display

This was perceived as a major improvement. For most of the time, the screen showed a single or at most two windows. It was clear who was speaking to whom, and it was easy to follow the dialogue. The windows contained a good variety of images, from a single person or two, to a panel or to the whole audience (for one of two of the demonstrations). The windows were of fixed size, and were retained in the same locations on screen. This produced a more professional quality, and resulted from the approach of the organisers to the importation of broadcast standards into the presentation and management of interactive distributed educational events.

4.10 Control and management

It was obvious that the successes achieved were in large part due to the approach adopted by the organisers in setting broadcast standards for production, presentation and control. This was especially evident from the on-screen use of presenters to control the sessions, and to increase the level of intersite interactivity. The rapid reaction of the team to the challenges of presenting over 25 hours of live interactive educational activities, using the broadcast style and standards was especially successful. From the viewpoint of the participants, it is this major step forward in production values which will be the benchmark for all future events of this nature.
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