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Shorter, focused video conferencing the way forward

December 20, 2013 | Telepresence Options

student videoconference

Story and images by MICE BTN

Video conferencing has not made the inroads into face-to-face meetings that many expected and Simon Pryor, chief executive of the Mathematical Association of Victoria believes it's a question of delivery - and that long sessions via video conferencing impede the aim of the digital technology.

Pryor, speaking at the recent PCO conference in Melbourne, Australia cited a recent project to deliver training to maths teachers across Victoria via a complicated piece of software called Mathematica that was failing to achieve the desired results.

"Teachers were trained in situ; there was insufficient funding for centralised training.

"Now hundreds of schools have video conferencing equipment and we could have delivered the training modules to schools via the conferencing technology - but we eventually realised most people were uncertain how to use it for educational purposes.

"Students failed to embrace the video conferencing technology - we actually turned the machines off after 15 minutes as everyone started to fiddle and get bored," said Pryor.

"We next explored the systems used by Australia's Distance Learning Universities from the 1970s and 80s.

"Several universities including Deakin University and University of New England produced courses (in those days it was bound paper), but they were delivering university quality courses to people in remote areas by what was known as Distance Education.

"Even then, they realised 'a big fat folder of stuff' did not encourage student engagement and consequently, students were not learning and were not submitting essays or feedback.

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