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APPENDIX 1: INDIVIDUAL USER COMMENTS
Each section of the questionnaire form (see Appendix II)
contained space for individual user comments to be recorded.
This appendix contains the text of the comments received,
sorted and numbered under the original questions.
- Q8. "Please indicate the extent of basic training you received before taking part"
- No formal training, but I learnt by observation.
- Q9. "How would you rate the importance of training received"
- I had virtually no training but got on okay- a little training would be helpful.
- Better communication between the booking office and the porters lodge (Redwood) Please.
- Immediate help is needed to deal with problems e.g. no sound!!
- Training for on screen 'body language' and 'eye contact' needed.
- My answers are largely non-committal. My colleagues and I have learned how to use the system 'on the job'. I have no doubt that with a careful training session, we could use the network more effectively.
- Training in preparation of materials (e.g.. correct sizing) is essential.
- I was not involved in training and I think it is probably unnecessary except for a few printed guidelines.
- Q13. "Please comment on the structure of a video-conference meeting"
- It depends - large meetings need to be more formal - small meetings (4 or less) can be less formal.
- The network works well if meeting is fairly structured.
- The system also works very well for more informal discussions for which no agenda is necessary. For a formal meeting a Chairman, Agenda and Minute Secretary are vital.
- The joy of the network is that it enables informal meetings for discussion to take place without chaos ensuing.
- The structure of a video-meeting should correspond to a normal face-to- face
- It also depends on the type of meeting; research discussions can be ad-hoc and exploratory and work well.
- The Secretary and Chairman should be at the same site (very important)
- A chair sympathetic to how the network functions is essential - it is necessary in order to 'draw out' members in all centres.
- It depends on the size of committee - 3 is very informal, 10 needs more formality to work effectively.
- Q17. "Please comment on any point where you found the video network to be especially useful, or especially unhelpful in conducting a meeting"
- I would like to see the system expanded to include all H.E. institutions in Wales, but there technical problems with sound delays, and slow motion.
- Delay in picking up speakers, organisational and structural chaos at other ends.
- Routine business can be done quickly
- I like the University of Wales equipment and set up, and that it is in my building!; my problems outweigh the any convenience for me.
- It doesn't have the flow and momentum of face-to-face meetings - although that can be a positive benefit when you have chatty or undisciplined groups.!
- Constraint on time is a good description of how it works - meetings tend to be shorter than 'eyeball' type.
- Its not as good as face-to-face meetings, but the cost-benefit is positive.
- Useful for meetings with a fixed or limited agenda. Particularly useful for Project Grace - an all Wales project involving the 4 Adult Education/Extra-mural
Departments. Its a wonderful time saver, and wonderful back-up to face-to-face
- Saving in time and travel mean that its more likely that a member of a committee /group will participate.
- Good for quick informal meetings at short notice to find out what other people are thinking. Less useful for formal meetings involving negotiations as its much less easy to pick up on non-verbally from the other participants.
Not so good for more open meetings where the purpose is to spark off/ develop
- Helps to structure conduct of a meeting; ad-hoc intervention is difficult.
- Good point is the ability to put supplementary written material on the system via the document camera. Problem is the lack of visual feedback when speaking particularly if you are in the chair.
- Lack of body language is very difficult problem especially of non-speakers, because not seen.
- Imposes a structure on a meeting, need to give the chair a stronger hand, makes people prepare before hand. Not as suitable where detailed documents need to be consulted or edited jointly.
- Extremely useful for research discussions and seminars. Allows for more frequent meetings than otherwise possible. Particular good for one-to-one discussions. Allows for meetings with a limited time span. limited to one writing screen and not so good for mathematics. Cannot see writing or speakers face at same time. Lack of a computer link on current Welshnet.
- Requires very good time management, and the inconsistent sound quality is very annoying.
- We can 'meet' quickly and easily, discuss and identify way forward etc. - and it saves so much hassle.
- Should enable University- wide meetings to be called at short notice.
Enables contact to be made - with minimum cost to department.
Quality of pictures, and poor sound poor, problem is video network meetings are
held with no technician present to support meeting.
- Saves valuable time normally spent travelling; Voice activated of camera can be irritating when people drop books, pencils etc.
- I feel the use will not improve until more participants can see and be seen at the same time.
- It only works really successfully when the participants know each other beforehand. It is a disadvantage that you cannot see your own 'team' and the speaker at any given time.
- The Swansea Computer Centre cannot always be relied on to throw the vital switch - It should be controlled from the audio visual suite.
- The sound quality is inadequate: though in technical terms the video channel carries more information than the sound channel, in human terms the reverse is often the case.
- The video conference produces well structured tightly run meetings; little time is wasted. People say what they have to say without going on at length. I guess it cuts meeting times by 30%. Problem, there is no chance for informal 'testing the air' before or after a meeting!
- Very efficient on time - no real disadvantage compared with face-to-face meetings. Higher resolutions transmission of data is required (particularly document cameras).
- Usually guarantees a fairly good attendance especially for Bangor representatives, as meetings are usually held in Cardiff. Problem is I can't table papers at the meeting now.
- Since I have been involved with the network from the start, I find I regard it as very much part of my 'tools of the trade' and find it very easy and user friendly. When technical faults occur, it can be very frustrating because one is usually helpless to do anything to put it right.
- Big problem is no help available for breakdowns, meeting becomes an absolute
waste of time.
- Saving of time, but for Pure Maths Seminars (my only experience) the medium is poor.
- Problem is timing and body behaviour assume different forms over the network
- Discussion highly focused, and keeps to the point. Delayed image and slow voice controlled switching is sometimes disconcerting.
- USPs are a bloody waste of time so I have nothing to add!!!
- Wonderful not to travel, but meetings can be a little stilted.
- Saves time/travel, but very poor for committees which require detailed, technical discussion.
- Frequency of contact is increased.
- Saves time and money; concentrates members attention to agenda items - USP
would be virtually impossible for secretaries without it now.
It is bad that there are few opportunities for individuals to 'connect' over the
- Next best thing to a personal meeting, but discussions are limited to one person at a time.
- An efficient system, but gives poor images/sound quality and is technically
- Saving time - "knitting" colleagues together, making lecture courses possible. Lack of access to the remote location at Cardiff is a problem.
- The system provides low quality pictures - primitive technology?
- Good point is- saving in travel, and greater facility for organising meetings. Bad point - inability to have more than one site on screen, and the time delay makes conversation awkward, even with zoom, documents on screen remain difficult to read.
- Very useful and expedient in dealing with fairly routine matters or un controversial issues. It is difficult to access the impact of proceedings on persons not visible on screen - need multiple monitors to enable all centres to be simultaneously displayed.
- Saves time; I have now had 20 meetings on the video network and the thing which I note thinking about them is that the level of discussion always remains at a superficial level. As a result, little work of a high quality is achieved. With each meeting I go to I think less and less of the system as a communication tool. I am now convinced there is no substitute for a face-to -face meeting if any real depth of thought is to be achieved. The reverse of this is that the Video-conference is a good system for forcing something through a committee with little comment!!.
- Quick response for an urgent meeting between sites (24hrs). Break down of
equipment is a problem. More training should be given before the first session on the network i.e. planning, preparation, camera presentation, more knowledge of the equipment.
- The major focus is the saving of travel/time which make up for any deficiencies. Bad points:- limitation is that it is impossible to judge in the absence of body language, the reaction of others to what is being said. It is difficult to judge the appropriate moment to intervene.
- Q20. "Has the videoconference facility made it possible to run a course which otherwise would not have happened?"
- No use yet made of the network for teaching. I am looking into the possibilities /practicality of using the Network for teaching options/modules of Welsh Women's History which might be open to individuals on Women's Studies Masters courses involving Bangor, Cardiff, and Swansea.
- Wonderful way to expand Welsh medium provision cost-effective and convenient.
- It has led to the setting up of an all-Wales specialist group in Electron Microscopy.
- A long series of seminars in Mathematical Physics and Physical Mathematics.
- Aids in liaison/tutor support with students on clinical placements in Mid/S.Wales.
- We can provide audiences large enough to put on specialised talks, and to make it worth while to get in outside speakers.
- Preparatory and back-up lectures and tutorials for Post-Grad. courses are essential.
- Travel expenses would have prevented Post-Grads from attending regular 'live'
seminars across 3 campuses.
- Assembles a 'critical mass' of students that makes lecture worthwhile.
- It was planned from the start as a inter-collegiate scheme, with Historical modules taught over the video-link.
- Q30. "What are the major limitations in using the system?"
- Booking is difficult. Can't we access directly via Internet (or something!) ?
- Biggest problem - Swansea studio is used for general teaching. Surely it would be better to have dedicated studios as in Aberystwyth.
- It is useful to provide OHP material as handouts in advance.
- Discussion periods at each 'lecture' are important.
- Students like to see a face hence breaks between OHP, etc are
- Limitation of number of students at each site. Multiple lines out of each site will be needed as use develops. Urgently need more studios or lecture rooms equipped with these facilities.
- Transmission of only one image from each site is a problem- you can't see the
lecturer and what they might be writing. To some extent, image quality and
difficulty of using blackboards with the system. Occasional unreliability of the
system is still a problem.
- Students need 2 or 3 sessions before they are used to the medium - spontaneity is a bit lacking - Interactions over the video need to be more 'measured' than a normal session. Problems with time lag between sound and vision, and sometimes poor quality visual image on screen. Essentially the system is practical and easy to use - It also demands (and gets) an extra level of concentration from the students.
- The video conference facility in Cardiff is too small and no major teaching rooms are connected - Swansea seems to have done better.
- Size of studio, fact that monitors do not show remote site and transmitted
documents. Remoteness of UWCC studio facility from my department.
Students tend to be inhibited about asking questions.
-Contact between tutor and student rather formal and sometimes awkward due to time delay and failures of speakers to appear on screen.
- Contact between students on separate sites limited/inhibited - need to speak rather loudly (more sensitive microphones would help).
- Difficulty in reading documents from screen (monitors closer to participants might help??).
-Limitation to six active participants on one site has been a problem occasionally.
- Little or no direct feedback from the students . It is more difficult to gauge the 'feeling' of the entire group of students. You do need a member of staff at the 'other end' to ensure questions are asked to get some feedback.
- Difficult to manage if using more than 2 sites in a link.
- Transmission of only one image from each site - you can't see the lecturer and what they might be writing. To some extent, image quality and difficulty of using blackboards with the system. Occasional unreliability of the system is still a problem.
- I use the network for the entire term, and I was not able to meet students personally. This was the greatest draw-back. I have drafted a paper on these issues - available on request.
- For a less active students, it would be difficult for her/him to participate the two-way communication in the lecture.
- Q31. "Please comment on future use and promotion"
- Sharing the resources in the University.
- For purposes of intercollegiate teaching and meetings the network is valuable, but I do not see the scope for further promoting its use.
- At Post-Grad level, network makes courses efficient
- I have found the system impressive for 'looking in' on special lectures.
- Under present arrangements the scheme makes a course possible which would
otherwise be impossible on economic grounds.
- The Physics Dept's. are planning to greatly extend their teaching on the network, especially in post graduate and final year Physics courses.
- Connections to other Universities should also be made available and promoted.
- Very important for extending Welsh medium provision.
- International links need to be improved/developed
- Improves use of tutor time in not having to travel long distances.
- Saving of staff time in travel; spreading of expertise, drawing expertise together.
- The experience at post-grad level is that one can introduce students to a much wider range of topics than would be possible locally.
- Time saving is greatest benefit for me.
- I see considerable institutional disadvantage in promoting the video network. there are also teaching quality assurance problems.
- Allows students access to the whole range of specialist teaching in the University.
- Q35. "Please comment on the booking arrangements"
- The video is now more heavily used than a year ago (it seems ) and one needs to book in advance.
- I have never had problems getting slots required - though greater use may make that more difficult.
- The computerised booking system is efficient. The central 'bookers' are effective.
- The only problem I have had is, on rare occasions the local studio has been locked and not ready for use at the booked time
- Very friendly and efficient technical assistance, but some lack of communication ( especially bookings made at SWANSEA!).
- Very occasionally there are difficulties in getting onto the system and subsequent delays.
- I make the bookings on behalf of the Registry and therefore I have completely free access to the booking system which is obviously very useful since I can check on availability etc.
- Problems with unbooked sites or site switching in/at awkward times can cause
severe technical problems. Sometime caused by network switching not being
controlled from/by the conference itself.
- A direct booking facility via computer terminal would be preferable - there are too many intermediaries in the booking chain at Aberystwyth.
- Because it is not well promoted, the procedures can involve phoning for a booking form, and therefore a time delay. I have also once ended up being double booked!
- Q39. "Is there any advice or comment which you think would be particularly helpful to give to people before they start to attend a video network meetings"
- Forget about the cameras and just get on with the meeting.
- It's easier than you think!
- Go well prepared if its a meeting. Be prepared to speak up because if you don't , you won't get the point across. People need a certain level of confidence to take part in a meeting.
- Organise effective training sessions.
- The careers service at Aberystwyth is linked into the SW regional training group of ACCAS. This involves all institutions west of Oxford and south of a line from Oxford to Aberystwyth. It would be helpful for these institutions to be linked together.
- It is not that mysterious! This questionnaire seems to neglect the research potential, and value for communication between research groups.
- A Welsh language version should have been provided of this questionnaire
- Don't be scared - it doesn't bite!
- Use an OHP pen (black) for writing and do not cram too much on your page.
- Try out the facilities before hand - especially if the outcome is important to you.
- Keep to a well defined agenda.
- A video-network meeting is not essentially different from a face-to-face meeting. Only 'one' person at each centre be chosen to handle the controls.
- Participants should not be slow in coming forward!. Voice activated switching
means vocal interjections are necessary to catch the chairman's eye!
Video conferencing is more intense and demanding than meetings on face-to-face
- An 'idiots' guide to the facilities available would be helpful. Many people like myself were unaware of things like the document camera and how you can show the participants plus the document on a split screen.
There is initially at least , some loss of spontaneity , and bit of voice clipping during interchanges.
- Written guidelines for use of remote control i.e.. which button does what.
- Make sure you get the required 10 min training and rules of etiquette.
- The college should give some technical support and advice to those using the
- Speak clearly and firmly to activate the controls.
- MAJOR POINT - I want the video-conferencing on MY desk please! Lets catch up
with the technology.
- Prepared documents should use large type, and not too wide.
- Ensure you understand how the system works, especially that any sound you make puts you on screen i.e.. the system is noise activated.
- Beware of coughing, shuffling papers etc.; remember its sound activated- Look at your own image to avoid split screens - Speak up. Adjust the temperature of the room.
- Relax - Don't think of yourself as being on camera, just behave and talk naturally, but don't wave your arms about or make sudden movements. Speak clearly (not too load or soft). Don't rustle papers - remember the system is voice/sound switched. Remember to use the mute button if you want to whisper to a colleague.
- Beware of position of microphones and speak up. Don't rustle papers as this can switch monitor pictures.
- Just another meeting - Don't think about the technology, or the circumstances.
- Since the system is sound activated, Don't make any sound that is not part of the discussion. People who mutter, are a menace!!.
- Always look-in on a conference first.
- There appears to be no definite procedure for making bookings. The departmental secretary had to make several calls simply to find out who might take bookings.
- Important to speak audible into the microphone.
- raining before using the system is essential. Planning and preparation of material before the meeting. A whole new range of personal skills have to be learnt i.e. talking to the camera, producing handouts, editing video tape, slide presentations. Each site should develop courses to initiate new techniques which is required in this medium.
- My experience suggests that sessions work well where those involved know each
other. When this is not the case I suggest that it is important that all those taking part introduce themselves in rather more formal terms so as to facilitate subsequent difficulties.
- Make a previous visit to the video room before the first use. To make full use of the facilities one has to prepare the lecture or meeting with more detail than normal.
- Q40. "If you have used the network in the past but do not intend to use it again - please explain"
- I do not intend to use the conference for teaching. For meetings it is useful - for teaching it threatens the structure of academic institutions, and is unsuitable for the student contact part of quality assurance.
Virtual Environments Visualisation