Video-conferencing and teaching #theta2015

Video-conferencing and teaching – From outback Queensland to Ireland and back again (abstract)
David Wilson and Tim Gentile

One challenge is finding technology that works as well in regional areas as in cities. [Very relevant to Lincoln Uni context too. Unfortunately session doesn’t go on to discuss broadband issues at all, though an audience question later prompts them to mention they use Cisco systems, Jabber fallback.]

Biggest challenge is with student engagement – NZ study found higher attrition rate with video-conferencing than face-to-face. Many self-conscious on camera so might be more hesitant. Some feel disadvantaged. Reliability of technology is another issue, especially combined with lack of tech support. People have to speak one at a time.

Three models at Griffith:

  • multi-campus engagement (delivered on one campus and video-conference to another campus) – causes discussion about disadvantage, one solution can be to alternate which is the face-to-face campus
  • industry engagement (eg Lord David Puttnam giving lectures on film) “Overcomes the tyranny of distance”.
  • flipped teaching methods – haven’t used much yet

Need to educate academics about techniques, and students about etiquette, for video conferencing. [Hmm, I think vice versa as well.]


  • with student interaction when there’s a large cohort. With about 20 students it’s not too bad, can pass a mic around; with 200 becomes harder.
  • practical demonstrations need a special setup, lighting, etc, not just standard solution

Tech potential:

  • For lecturers who walk around a lot there are auto-tracking cameras. Effective range usually 10m so not appropriate to larger lecture theatres.
  • Twitter feed to bring up students’ questions. Currently in idea stage, untested – needs time to get right. Tech exists but need to adapt to teaching environment. Eg if 20 questions at once need to make usable for lecturers.
  • Q: “Shotgun microphones”
    A: Used in seminar rooms and lecture theatres. Setup with film school has more intricate setup basically like a full production with camera switching and someone carrying mic around. Similar effective range as auto-tracking cameras.

    Q: Can you record and make video conferences available?
    A: Yes, opt-in, becoming more popular. Have two content servers (so failover) – captures camera and audio.
    Q: Any copyright issues if including video?
    A: Yes, similar issues as lecture capture. For film school all copyright handled beforehand [helped that producer was lecturer!] For others, send all video to lecturer and leave it up to them to deal with copyright [which they won’t be good at so this is basically a “wash your hands” kind of solution].

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