Friday, 21 October 2011

Video Conferencing for Adult Learning

I was an end user of VC to enhance my learning last Thursday evening during the first session of my MSc course ( TELIC )  at Sheffield Hallam University.
Image showing the Adobe Connect VC environment used for teaching by SHU
The tutors - Richard Pountney and  Professor Guy Merchant were both available to support their students live via video from Sheffield.
Using the Adobe connect learning environment not only allowed the lecturers to see their students but share documents, set up polls, use a whiteboard and share desktops live on screen. 
Resources were all made accessible after the session through a wikki and blackboard.
As a distance learner this enabled me to see and hear not only my tutors but my peers.  As a result I have already met up with my class mate based in Chesterfield via VC this week out of lesson time so we could discuss our home work together.  Although I did not experience any technical problems at all, my class mate did loose video connection for a few minutes, but this did not stop her from hearing and seeing the lesson content which was automatically recorded through Adobe connect and then made accessible online by the tutor.

Having to study independently online, takes a lot of motivation, and determination from a learner. I found that the course ran via VC helped me to engage better with my tutors and peers. I did not feel as though I was working on my own - I was part of a group  that I could speak to and ask questions and get immediate feedback. The experience made me feel as though I was in the lecture in person and made the learning process very easy for me. One of the huge advantages for me was the time saved in traveling.  I work full time - which would  mean I would have to take half  a day off from work  to travel to a university anywhere in London for 12 days per year.  Instead the course at SHU enables me to work from home from 5.30pm - 8.30pm without the frustration and cost involved in using public transport. 

I would thoroughly recommend anyone thinking of doing an online distance learning course to choose an University that offers courses via video conference.  The future of adult learning is already changing through the use of technology and this is certainly a perfect example of technology enhanced learning at its best.

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