Saturday, September 19, 2015

Still Problems with Video Conferences for Education

This week I took part in an hour long video conference for a course I am a student in. I have been taking part in such events for more than a decade and little progress seems to have been made in the technology, or its application.

The event used Adobe Connect, which does not work quite as well as Blackboard Collaborate. I was using a very high bandwidth fibre optic connection, but even so the quality of the service was not that good. The audio was clipped (I suspect because the presenter had their microphone turned up too loud) the service dropped out every ten minutes or so and I had to reconnect.

However, the major problem was that the tutor spent most of the time talking, making it a monologue, like a badly done, old fashioned lecture. This was because it was too hard for the students to speak. It might have been improved if the tutor got the studnets to each pratice raising their hand and taking over speaking. Of the students I did most of the talking, perhaps because I had the best connection and am used to video-conferences.

Five minutes of the event was taken up discussing when the later events were to be held. The problem is that the particular educational instuion has a policy of using their local time zone for scheduling events, even though their students spread across the world. With the change of seasons, students have to take into account not only the usual time difference between the campus and their location, but also daylight saving. It would be so much simpler if events were scheduled in UTC.

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