Welcome… My background… How many of you here use web conferencing now? How many of you are thinking of implementing web conferencing? How many of you have attended web conferences?
A webinar is a type of web conferencing that involves limited interaction. When I describe web conferencing some people say to me “Oh, you mean like Skype?” Yes, but it is a more robust version of Skype with more features.
Not all web conferencing tools offer all of these features. It depends on the targeted audience for the vendor. Vendors that are focusing on either education or corporate training to any great extent will offer most of these features.
Has anyone used it for something else, or are you planning to use it for a different purpose?
For those who are interested in specific benefits of using web conferencing for instruction, I found the article referenced at the bottom which explored the relationship of web conferencing features to Chickering & Gamson’s seven principles of good undergraduate education. The study found that several teaching practices that are employed during web conferencing support the 7 principles. Some of the teaching practices are tool-specific, meaning that a specific use of a feature in the web conferencing software supports the principle. And the remaining teaching practices are pedagogical in nature. I won’t go into depth here, but if you are interested you can check out this article.
I tried to find statistics on how many schools are using web conferencing. This is the best I could find. I suspect most of the 45% of colleges are using video conferencing more than web conferencing.
I’m sure you’ll hear more pros and cons from each of the following presenters. Here’s just an initial list of things to think about. It looks like there are a lot of cons up here, but they are really just issues to be dealt with and may not be reasons for not doing web conferencing. Cons: Bandwidth – dealing with DL students -> Not everyone has a high speed connection. Also, when I worked in the corporate environment, there were limits on the server and network that limited the number of simultaneous events that could be running. Compatibility – not all software works with both Macs and PCs and with all browsers. In higher education you tend to have users with a variety of system configurations, which makes it difficult to make sure a tool will work for everyone. I know there can be problems with pop-up blockers, firewalls, cookie settings, etc. Fortunately with many of these issues you can educate the end users about how to avoid or correct them. Attendee set-up – software usually has an automatic download, but to avoid surprises with technical issues during events, many vendors offer a technical check of some sort that many institutions recommend their users try before attending a live event. This is helpful for diagnosing possible problems ahead of time, but it seems like a hassle to the attendees. Audio quality – differences in microphones, sound cards, Internet connections, etc. can affect this. Administration issues – assigning accounts, who can schedule, abuse by students?, etc. Lack of higher ed case studies – very little information about how schools are implementing this. There is a lot about the corporate environment, but that doesn’t translate to higher ed. Give IDX story about leading events.
I’m sure you are all familiar with investigating new technologies, but I wanted to mention a few things you should definitely be thinking about when you look into this on your own. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Does anyone have anything to add?
Stay away from price per use per minute formulas. They are a rip off.
Centra is trying to get into higher ed, but they still don’t get the market. Elluminate does an adequate job of addressing higher education. Horizon Wimba – focuses solely on education Interwise – says it serves higher ed, but has very few education clients and provides no materials, marketing collateral, etc. for education clients.
Web Conferencing in Higher Education Amy Ricci, WPI
Shi, S. & B. Morrow. (2006). E-Conferencing for Instruction: What Works? Educause Quarterly , 29 (4), p. 42-49. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0646.pdf Tool-specific Use of application sharing Tool-specific Use of voice, text, and chat tools Accommodate diverse learning styles Pedagogical Encourage student participation Communicate high expectations Pedagogical Time all lectures/events Pedagogical Stick to prepared schedule Time on task Tool-specific Use of polling tools Tool-specific Text chat Prompt feedback Tool-specific Use of polling tools Tool-specific Application sharing Pedagogical Asking questions Active learning Tool-specific Text chat Pedagogical Group work Student-student cooperation Pedagogical Requiring student participation Tool-specific Use of polling tools Student-faculty Contact Type of Practice Teaching Practices Chickering & Gamson Principle