Teaching and learning using interactive video conferencing: Screen-based classrooms require the development of new ways of working

Year: 1999

Author: Luck, Jo

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Since 1997 Central Queensland University (CQU) has extensively used interactive videoconferencing facilities to teach students located on it's Queensland based campuses. Very little training was available to staff who used the interactive videoconferencing facilities. It was assumed that face-to-face teaching skills would be directly transferable to the medium of videoconferencing. An internal report commissioned by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor indicated considerable staff dissatisfaction with teaching via the interactive videoconferencing facilities .

This paper describes the results of a research project that analysed the process of teaching via interactive videoconferencing. This project used a two-day staff development workshop and a curriculum redesign process to develop a model of teaching using the interactive videoconferencing facilities that encouraged interaction between students and between staff and students. The videoconferencing model has some similarities to both the internal and external models of teaching. It also has some aspects unique to the communication medium.

Data were collected in the form of student comments, student focus groups and staff observations and reflections. The data was analysed using Sproull and Kiesler's (1991) two-level perspective of communication technologies. They argue that technologies have both efficiency effects and social system effects and that management tends to concentrate on the efficiency of a new technology and ignore the social system effects.

Sproull and Kiesler (1991) state that, the most significant effects of adopting a new communication technology may be not to let people do old things more efficiently but rather to do new things that were not possible or feasible with the old technology. Therefore, this paper argues that in order to maximise the benefits of the interactive videoconferencing facilities, the university needs to exploit the characteristics of the interactive videoconferencing that are not present in other communication media available to the lecturing staff.