Utilization of Teleconferencing:
Teleconferencing is an umbrella term that describes an electronic link or meeting between participants at two or more locations. Teleconferencing links more users located at different places through audio-video and/or computer technology. It is an important device of our overall communications system and is emerging as a valuable tool for education and business meetings.
Teleconferencing provides a variety of advantages to teaching-learning at a distance or autonomous learning. It can be used for brain storming, questioning, role play, group discussion, case studies, problem-solving, etc.
It can be used to keep the students and teachers informed about important developments and innovations in the body of knowledge. It can link various schools, learning centers or homes with the main institution (teaching end) thus, can help teachers in providing quality education to member/participating schools or students.
The guest lectures can be arranged through teleconferencing. The guest teacher can make live presentation and be able to ‘electronically’ meet the students in a classroom-like situation. Thus teleconferencing makes it possible for the participating schools or learning centers to draw upon the best resources and experts in the specific field of study, who may not be available to all schools or students under normal circumstances.
Like any communication technology, the application of teleconferencing in the teaching-learning process will depend on the accessibility, cost and pedagogic effectiveness of the technological configuration being used.
Nevertheless, if systematically designed, planned, implemented and utilized, the teleconferencing sessions can provide valuable resource to the students learning at a distance.
We should remember that teleconferencing, for that matter any communication technology will not eliminate all face-to-face contact, which is called for on different occasions. Depending on the nature of the knowledge or skills to be acquired by the students, an on-site contact may be appropriate. In this situation, the teacher (expert) can actually sit down with students and make adjustment according to the need of their needs.
There can be different types of teleconferencing, different types of technological configurations. Among them there are three types of teleconferencing system being used in India these days. They are:
(i) Audio conferencing
(ii) Video conferencing
Video conferencing: In this system students can see the teacher or both the teacher and the students can see each other. Depending on the use of technology, there can be two types of video conferencing. They are:
i. Two-way video conferencing
ii. One-way video conferencing
(i) Two-way video conferencing:
In the two-way video conferencing students can see and hear the teacher and fellow students located at different learning Centers and can learn in an interactive environment and exchange views/ideas.
A primary advantage of the two-way video conferencing lies in its replication of a face-to-face meeting. Students can react to each other’s body language and visual clues in interpersonal transactions. A two-way video conferencing can accommodate a range of information, including graphics and possibly scanned documents. The video conferencing can be either motion or non- motion operations. V
Two-way video conferencing is a costly affair. We need to create the necessary infrastructure to transmit and receive visual signals at both the learning and the teaching centers. Besides, we have to equip the teaching and the learning ends with camera crew and technical staff to manage the two-way video conferencing.
(ii) One-way video conferencing:
In one-way video conferencing, the audio- video information can be one-way information or can be a one-way stream from the institution/teaching end to its learning centers or schools. These centers or schools may communicate with the teaching end in turn, with a telephone or other audio-based hookup. The connection can be used for question and answer sessions the discussion on relevant points and for the clarification of specific details.
The potential of one-way video conferencing (point-to-multi-points) has been demonstrated in India through various experiments conducted by some educational institutions. The system can be used for teaching different topics, including sciences.