This short article describes a desktop video conferencing project trial begun in July, 1995 between teachers at the Open Access College and:
- a family of three students living on a station in remote South Australia.
- two medically disabled students in metropolitan Adelaide.
Teaching the curriculum by distance education to these students usually involves contact with their teachers by telephone or HF radio once a week with students posting their written work for marking and comments. Often the time for the round journey of posting in, marking and posting back can take between 2-4 weeks. Teachers make face to face visits to their students only once or twice a year.
Research into desktop video conferencing in 1994 indicated it could be used successfully to improve the quality of interaction between students and teachers and to improve the quality of learning concepts and processes difficult to teach in the non-visual mode of distance education.
Desktop video conferencing incorporates videophone technology on a computer. When teachers make a desktop videophone call with ShareVision ® they simultaneously talk, see their students and interactively share a whiteboard or computer program all over one ordinary telephone line.
In the project trial we placed computers running ShareVision into:
ShareVision installed on a desk in the student's bedroom
We wanted to determine if desktop video conferencing offered improved learning opportunities for concepts and processes that have traditionally proved difficult to address in the non-visual mode of distance education and where limited movement video input is required, viz. showing case study material, presenting information requiring high quality still graphics, etc.
A student holds up a draft of an assignment they have completed in front of the ShareVision camera and takes a snapshot for their teacher to immediately see and interact with the work.We also hoped to see if desktop video conferencing encouraged more meaningful teacher-student interaction empowering the students and advancing the equity between the two.
Another objective dealt with issues of student management in the distance mode. We wanted to learn if desktop video conferencing could deal more efficiently with the tendency for some students to withdraw or become non-participatory in lessons. The visual presence of others who are geographically distant creates a strong sense of social presence and may create the warm environment which some need.
Parents and supervisors also had a means to video conference with teachers providing them with a more meaningful role in the learning partnership.
Hugh's brother, Charlie in Year 6 had difficulty in some literacy skills, particularly spelling. His teacher was able to view and correct his work much faster by having Charlie take a snapshot of his writing viewing it together and correcting it with him online. Charlie could see the corrections as his teacher made them and talked to her about them. Corrections could be saved and used in helping with the following week's work.
Charlie's twin sister Emma also in Year 6 received fewer ShareVisionŞ lessons than Charlie or Hugh but was able to make some use of ShareVision's interactive whiteboard to help improve her work in fractions.
ShareVision is also enabling a closer contact between parents and teachers. It provides the means for home based supervisors (usually parents) to take a more active role in their child's education.
Teachers' comments include:
The immediate response to student work makes teaching more relevant.while students have said things like....
Being able to talk through concepts and check for immediate understanding makes learning more personal and interactive.
Using ShareVision as a tool for modelling work gives me a strategy which more closely emulates face to face teaching.
For the first time I am actually teaching Charlie rather than responding to him.
It's so good to be able to see Menno's face - I can tell whether he understands or not without having to wait until assignments are posted in.
It was good and lots of fun. I liked seeing Miss Lynn. We played games. It was good to tell news and draw pictures of what we were talking about and she could see it.A home supervisor of students using ShareVision had this to say:
It's been fun and I have learnt a lot too. ShareVision is an excellent program for school and we could also sell sheep on it.
It was good that I could use maps so quickly and see how to do my Maths. I couldn't do it on paper - it would take me a long time.
'ShareVision was very good. I could see my teacher and what he was doing. I once was having trouble with my fractions so Mr McTaggart rang me up on ShareVision and showed me how to do it. If we had not had ShareVision my teacher could only have told me how to do it over the phone and I would probably have got it wrong any way.
I think there is a great future in using ShareVision for non school based students. Though it probably won't replace correspondence, the extra help it gives gifted or slow learners is marvellous. We have found it wonderful for solving problems. It is time consuming though. When my mother did her schooling there was never any contact with schools. She really did it on her own no matter what the problem. Now we have the telephone, radio and a remote teacher 'face to face' for part of each week with ShareVision.
A close-up view of the computer monitor showing a snapshot in the larger whiteboard work area and the smaller remote and local video windows on the left hand side.
In particular, desktop video conferencing is:
|Roger Edmonds is a project officer for alternative delivery systems at the Open Access College. His responsibilities include the ongoing project management of delivering the curriculum of distance education using audiographic and desktop video conferencing to over 60 client schools in SA and to several college based students. He is also responsible for developing the use of the Internet both within the OAC and to college based students. Roger provides training and development for OAC teachers OA school supervisors and OA students in using all types of interactive teaching technologies. He is chairperson of the DECS video conferencing working party and convener of the OAC R-12 Curriculum Technology Committee.|
Tel: (08) 3627 590 fax (08) 362 0045
Please cite as: Edmonds, R. (1996). Distance teaching with vision. In J. G. Hedberg, J. Steele and S. McNamara (eds), Learning Technologies: Prospects and Pathways, 31-35. Selected papers from EdTech '96. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech96/edmonds.html