New Communications Options: A Renaissance in Videoconference Use: Chapter 13 in Veletsianos

So, I went through the whole month of October without blogging. Having a blog-free month was not a planned decision or anything like that. – it’s just one of those things that happened.

And now it’s time to move forward with Chapter 13 in the Veletsianos book. authored by Caladine, Andres, Tynan, Smyth and Vale. (Chapter 13) in the Veletsianos (ed.) book.

Videoconferencing has been around for a while but it hadn’t always found its way into effective distance education experiences, for a range of reasons that are described by these authors (cost, bandwidth issues and unreliability of early systems are some of the obvious factors). The current “renaissance” described in this chapter refers to newer tools (Skype, etc.) that provide easy and inexpensive options.

Challenges for distance education arise with these options though. In particular, with respect to pedagogy the authors state “a repeating dilemma will arise with each new wave of technology: should this be used for formal education or is it a personal/social tool better left in the realm of informal communication?” (p. 254)

The chapter discusses how videoconference has “frequently copied typical lecture-hall formats of didactic information delivery rather than exploring approaches that are interactive and oriented towards knowledge construction” (p. 254) and recommend that more constructivist activities be considered as part of the use of videoconference for education to reduce isolation and personalize learning. To do so, it will be necessary to move away from the previous perception, held by many, that videoconferencing is about ‘transmission’.

The chapter is also a source of technical information about videoconference types and how to plan for them.

This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).

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