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Teaching via Video Conferencing

July 29, 2013 | Telepresence Options

teaching videoconferencing

Story by Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary / Gulf News

Imagine sitting in a class room in Dubai and being taught Economics by a teacher based in Hawaii! Technology enhanced learning is here to stay and Dubai-based International Horizons College offers a unique US curriculum based transfer programme where students get and opportunity to not only study with their faculty on premise but also connect with expert faculty from around the world via video conferencing. About 20 per cent of IHC's lectures are held via video conferencing provided with Polycom video solutions. Dr MichaelE Dobe, the President of IHC and an educationist and Information Technology expert, spoke to Education about the numerous possibilities such technological aids have opened up for his students.

Could you elaborate on the academic model developed by IHC?

The International Horizons College (IHC) is licensed and accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) and offers a US based system of education. Our 2+2 model which is effectively an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts for students from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region allows students to prepare themselves for a Bachelor degree course with two years of study in Dubai. Preparation starts in the freshmen year at IHC, when students work with academic counselors to develop a clear academic plan. The Academic Plan is based on students' natural aptitude and interests. Students who achieve a good GPA of 3.0 or more get an opportunity to transfer to our affiliate University of California (UC) system ( such as University of Berkley, San Diego, UCLA and a hundred other school) where the students can complete their remaining two years in the discipline they chose for a Bachelor's degree. In addition to UC system, students can also gain admission to the California State University (CSU) system of over 20 universities.

You have used the Polycom video conferencing system as an effective teaching and learning aid where students get the opportunity to have classes via video conferencing. Please elaborate on this?

Polycom video conference system is the global leader in open standards-based unified communications and collaboration and Du is their telecommunications partner. We have entered into an agreement with Du (that manages this Video Service) . It allows us to have full video conferencing solutions - we interview our teachers from US via vide conference, interact regularly with our faculty in Turkey, Pakistan and Moscow, saving time and money, have some lectures via video conference - without having to set up a full data centre - a technical and financially viable model. Besides that, our vide conferencing allows us to connect with experts from around the world.

Doesn't a system like Polycom video solutions suit a corporate environment for conference meetings and interviews across the globe? Does this work well in case of a long- term engagement that an academic course requires with students?

We are using the video conferencing to enhance the learning experience. All of the classes are taught here but 20 per cent of our college lectures are delivered from the US via video conferencing. The students have access to online courses and data bases. Our academic model is about two years of study here and then transfer to the US (some colleges in California such as University of Berkley, UCLA, San Diego about 100 schools. The vide platform gives them a taste of US education in real time preparing them for the transfer.

What is the corner stone of Horizon College's education philosophy?

It's a unique concept for Dubai where we offer a strong liberal arts pathway where a student who has completed two years with us can get into a top business programme, a liberal arts programme, whatever he wishes. We offer post secondary undergraduate education where in 20 per cent of our education is delivered through distance learning via video conferencing. Polycom is used throughout the curriculum. It gives the student a chance to get supplemental instruction from a faculty member in let's say from Hawaii. . I think we are adding something of value, for our student's educational career and the professional career he or she wishes to pursue later.

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