Teleconferencing- Meaning| Types| Educational Implication

Teleconferencing- Meaning| Types| Educational Implication

Meaning of Teleconferencing

Teleconferencing means the conferencing made possible among the participants even by staying at a large distance from each other. Since, face to face interaction (FTF) interaction is the traditional standard for holding conferences (or interactive group communication). However, holding of such conferences becomes a tiresome or a long task when the people involved in these conferences are located at a very far distance. The time, money and energy spent in bringing people together for these conferences create various problems. The alternative lies in the changing to teleconferencing leaving behind the traditional face to face method of conferencing.

Therefore, teleconferencing can be defined as an interactive group communication or a real time interaction between two or more people in two or more locations through an electronic medium.

Teleconferencing was introduced for the first time in 1960s with American Telephone and Telegraph’s Picture. Teleconferencing brings people together under one roof even though they are separated by thousands of miles for the exchange of information and opinion.

Types of Teleconferencing

Today, teleconferencing has vast use with the great advances made in the field of communication through modern software and hardware technologies. It is of three basic types, which are as follows:

  1. Audio-conferencing

    It is basically natural extension of the person to person telephone call done for enabling communication and conversation among more than two persons at a time.

  2. Video- conferencing

    This involves communication in both form i.e. orally as well as with face to face dialogue by making the use of television and audio system. Listening and viewing the faces and actions of people interacting in conference can be done through videoconferencing.

  3. Computer conferencing

    Participants communicate through each other by making use of computer technology. Through this technology, one can communicate text and graphics to participants who can access it with the help of their computer. Faces and actions of the people can also be seen with the help of web cameras. Computer conferencing has an additional advantage as it allows people to participate at different times according to their convenience. Also, the transmitted communication can be stored which could be used the participant later on. Therefore, all the participants need not to be present online at their computer terminals at the same present.

However, in most of the situations, teleconferencing is focused into the total interaction matching with the true spirit of face to face conferencing. For this purpose, audio-video and computer conferencing is synthesized. Sometimes, any two of the above can be adopted or audio-video modes can be integrated to computer conferencing. Hence, various configuration teleconferencing systems may emerge from the possible synthesis of the different modes of teleconferencing and possibilities of signal transmission.

Since, audio system conferencing involves transmission across telephone lines, it may be considered as the most economic and viable, method of teleconferencing. It may be called as audio plus transmission system and can be supplemented through the following means of visual display:

  1. Fax, that is, electronic copies of pieces of typewritten information may be transmitted to the participants.
  2. Videotext system, which is actually a teletext, where one can send the digital information with text and graphics to the participants for viewing on the monitors or television screens.
  3. Electronic chalkboard, where anything that is written on the board can be converted into digital information. As a result, blackboard work can easily be viewed by the remote participants on their monitors.

Video Conferencing Facilitated by Computer Technology

It consists of lots of possibilities and wide educational applications for best possible outcomes of the teleconferencing system. It has made an easier for the students sitting in a classroom in any city to edit and discuss a project with students in another city. These students can see real time video image of a classroom in a distant or far away location. The students can also write messages on the screen in a “Chat window”. Any document can also be shared among each other through a document camera and also share any experiment by positioning the camera over a microscope or zooming in on some other research. Therefore, information exchange becomes easier also they can get immediate feedback through this mode.

In this mode, video images are beamed back to participants from a special computer used as a “reflector”. This reflector can host multiple sites at same time.

Web Conferencing

Web conferencing offers opportunity for modernizing the tasks of video-cum computer conferencing. Web conferencing has wide and varying meaning. At the basic level, it is the ability to hold a conference where the participants are able to listen to it through their phone and see visuals through web browser simultaneously. The one who is organizer can control what they want to show their participants and keep everyone on the same page, can also use drawing tools to emphasize any point.

In its advance level, the organizer of conference can show web page of the participants, draw something on “white board” to illustrate a point and use any software so that all participants can see the software that is working. Organizer can also allow the participants to add comments and drawing to a presentation or hand-off conference control to another participants totally.

The web pages also contain useful information regarding the subject or theme of the conference. An institution is able to initiate a dialogue by applying a theme, subject or point of discussion on the web page and then encourage the viewers scattered around a vast region for playing their roles as participants in such type of web-conferencing communication. A famous thought says, a picture is worth a thousand words and web-conferencing gives us facility to share pictures, graphs, slides and software with the interested participants sitting thousands of miles away from each other.

Educational Advantages / Educational Implications

The educational benefit of teleconferencing is enlisted in points, which are as follows:

  1. It saves time, money and energy of the participants by allowing them to participate in the conference from their own places, instead of travelling to a long distance.
  2. It helps the students and teachers in getting up to date to information and experiences related to their topics and areas of interest by communicating with the people and sources of authenticity.
  3. It provides a good source of communication in the form of exchange of ideas and knowledge, sharing of experiences, execution of common projects, doing surveys and investigations, writing of a report, working in team, etc. for a number of students or institutions scattered in a worldwide.
  4. It reduces the wastage of time and other resources that usually occurs in fulfilling social formalities during the face to face traditional conferencing. Here, the contacts are shorter and purpose is oriented primarily.
  5. The members can participate more freely and equally with their adequate preparation as compared to the traditional face to face conferencing.
  6. The advanced technology available through audio-plus teleconferencing, video conferencing supported by computer technology helps the learners and teachers in gaining useful experiences in the form of auto-instructions and auto-training that works according to their learning pace or learning speed, availability of time and diversities in the interests, specially through e-mail transaction and web-conferencing.
  7. Teleconferencing has made it possible a unique collaboration and cooperation among different subject experts, teachers and students of different capabilities and interests for fulfilling their thirst of knowledge and sharing their contribution in the field of education. The barrier of distances and timings have been eliminated through on-line chatting and video display of the information available on websites, for the useful interaction among the people who want to acquire knowledge or discuss something related to information.

Therefore, we can conclude that teleconferencing has vast potential for increment and facilitation of communication among the group of learner and teachers. However, we cannot fully substitute classroom teaching or traditional face to face communication.

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