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4.1 User Experience & Training

Welshnet users appear to be very confident in using the service. 76% indicated being very confident or confident in using the system, and none indicated any lack of confidence. In terms of initial induction, 21% of users had no experience of sitting-in and observing a session before taking part themselves, but did indicate that they had been given some advice on holding a video-conference meeting beforehand.

Almost half (46 %) were shown the basic controls as indicated in the BT Quick Reference Guide, but less than 40% were given additional advice on the operation of other AV equipment. (e.g. auxiliary camera, white board/flip chart, video recorder, screen based graphics from a PC)

A summary of the significant views held by users concerning general training needs is provided below in Table 4:-

Training Elements	Views         Proportion (%)

Admin./Operational Essential 57 Procedures Studio arrangements Essential 50 Background Technology Useful 58 Audio System Useful 56 Personal Interaction Useful 40 Document Camera Useful 49 Clothing advice Not needed 46 Common Problems Useful 51 Regular Support Useful 50

Table 4.

User views concerning training needs

Videoconferencing system are generally susceptible to distortion of the image caused by movement. This distortion is greatly emphasised when individuals are wearing bright jewellery, or heavily patterned clothing. It was therefore surprising that few users felt advice in this area to be necessary.

4.2 Committee & Meeting Use

Users are quite clear that preparation is very important. Most users (75-96%) favour a formal structure, a designated chair, a designated secretary with an agenda and other papers . Many users also commented that although video meetings should be largely treated just like any other meeting, in many cases much greater preparation is required in practice. 61% of participants also meet face-to-face; a point reinforced by individual comments.

Little use appears to being made of the additional AV facilities available in the studios (Table 5). Perhaps the time needed to prepare for a meeting, the facilities not being appropriate, or a lack of familiarity may account for this.

Studio AV facilities	Used	         Proportion (%)

Document Camera Never/Occasional 72 OHP's Never 63 Slides Never 82 Additional Monitors Never 71 White Board Never 73

Table 5.

Facilities used at committee/meeting sessions

Opinions on actual use are summarised in Table 6. There is an overwhelming view that video-conferencing provides savings in time and travel. The importance of the organisational side of a video meeting is also emphasised. A clear view emerged that carefully rehearsed meetings, strong leadership by the chair, prior introductions, and face-to-face at some stage are necessary. Some users expressed the view (in their comments) that small informal meetings can however be successful.

Views on Use	                        Opinion	 Proportion                                                      (%)

Video conference meetings lack a Agree 57 personal feel Prior introductions are necessary Agree 75 It is important to formally close Agree 83 meeting Face-to-face meetings are also needed Agree 76 It is easy for some studio groups to Uncertain 50 be overlooked Firm chairing & leadership are Agree 84 important Saving in travel appreciated Agree 84 Saving in time appreciated Agree 88 Hospitality (food/drink) provided at a Disagree 52 session

Table 6.

Significant views on videoconferencing use

4.3 Teaching & Learning Use

16 subject areas were represented in the survey by the 21 respondents who indicated that they were using the network for course delivery. The schools or departments involved are listed in Table 7. The courses or modules delivered were for the most part at post-graduate level, and a typical teaching session involved 6 to 25 students at a time, with sessions lasting up to 1 hour, mostly involving 1 tutor, but sometimes 2.
College	      Departments or Schools Involved in the Survey

Aberystwyth Agricultural Science, International Politics, Physics. Bangor Mathematics, Education, Radiography. Swansea Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics, Classical & Ancient History. Cardiff European Studies, Physics, History & Archaeology Ancient History. Lampeter Theology & Religious Studies, Modern Languages.

Table 7.

Subject area responses to the survey

For the most part conference users indicated that their sessions were lecture or seminar based with some time devoted to feedback on coursework. A high (78%) proportion indicated that the network made it possible to run a course which would not be otherwise possible. Interestingly none of the respondents indicated use of the network for research supervision purposes (Table 8).

Mode of Delivery	No.	% (out of 21)

Video lectures 12 57 Workshops 1 Seminars 10 48 Teamwork 1 Research 0 Supervision Workshops 1 One-to-One 1 Tutorials Student Feedback 3 14

Table 8.

Significant modes of delivery

50% of the respondents used the document camera and OHP projector on a regular basis, although little use appears to be made of any other complementary media (Table 9).

Media Usage	     No.	% ( out of 21)

Document delivery 10 48 OHPs 7 33 Slides 2 10 Pre-recorded Video 2 10 Graphics 4 20 White Board 5 23 Flip Chart 2 10 Computer Based 1 5 Media

Table 9.

Use of Complementary media

A high proportion of users adopt the view that non-video sessions are important in addition to the video-conference sessions (Table 10).

Running a Session	                 View	Proportion (%)

Importance of non-video sessions in Important 82 addition The role of 'ice'-breaking sessions Important 59 Importance of training/warm-up Important 69 sessions Importance of providing an agenda Important 87 Importance site names and Not Important 56 identifiers Importance of having participant Not Important 75 name tags Importance of having pre-written Important 80 questions Importance of evaluation data on a Not Important 50 session

Table 10.

User views on running a session

4.4 Staff Reactions and Opinions

The video conference sessions appear to be successful in terms of meeting teaching objectives (Table 11).
Opinions	                        View	Proportion

I use more visual aids when via the Agree 27 network I use better quality materials Disagree 53 Can be better than a face-to-face Disagree 59 session Can promote group cohesiveness Agree 25 Can promote group independence Uncertain 71 Can promote better course management Uncertain 60 Discourages feedback Agree 47 Difficult to balance needs of Disagree 40 local students My teaching objectives were met Agree 87

Table 11.

Views on videoconferencing for teaching purposes
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