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The Videoconferencing Classroom: What Do Students Think?

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Executive Summary

The advantages of video conferencing in educational institutions are well documented. The information presented in this paper addresses student perceptions regarding videoconferencing as an instructional delivery method. In order to adequately assess VC as a technique for classroom instruction, a student survey was prepared using questions from Free Assessment Summary Tool (FAST), a web-based student evaluation site developed by Ravelli and Patz (2000-2004) and Mount Royal College. Prior to the initial survey, the VC system had many start-up problems such as dropped connections, unintelligible audio or fuzzy video. Video technology did not affect the attainment of the course content, but did have an impact on student perceptions. If given a choice, students prefer face-to-face interaction with an instructor. However, its success was predicated by the availability of a VC classroom and adequate bandwidth - each of which requires a significant capital investment. For the long term, if videoconferencing of both local and remote classes were held on the same campus, it would probably be cheaper to construct additional classrooms or rent classroom space. Alternatively, for off-campus learning, this technology has good potential. The patience of the students, their willingness to try something new, adapt their learning style, and maintain a positive attitude was important during the process. Videoconferencing is closest to a face-to-face experience for many students in remote locations.

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