Web-conferencing has existed in various forms since the mid-1990s, and offers the opportunity for real-time communication (e.g. text-based messages, voice conversations / lectures, and web-camera enabled video) across geographically dispersed locations. Developments in this area have afforded stability, interactivity, and user-friendliness to this remote communication, and have provided additional methods by which facilitators can provide engaging learning opportunities in real-time.
Web-conferencing has been incorporated into both distance-learning activities (with students in discrete physical locations), and into some campus-based teaching. Using these technologies, students can watch lectures on screen and interact with lecturers using webcams, or instant messaging, as though they were in traditional classrooms.
Links to upcoming web-conferences are posted onto Canvas courses or can be emailed directly to the learners in advance of the live event. The most successful web-conferences have the facilitator talking directly to the learners, with time allocated for learners to ‘break out’ into small group discussions, or to ask questions to the facilitator. Web-conferences are typically recorded for playback for any learners who were unable to attend the live web-conference event. Some commonly used tools include Big Blue Button, Google Hangouts, and Adobe Connect.
Where to next?
Increased utilisation of web-conferencing, especially when interacting with learners who are unable to be physically on-campus. Web-conferencing ideas and tools may be utilised to replace, augment, or enhance many online activities provided to learners.
Guo, S., & Möllering, M. (2016). The implementation of task-based teaching in an online Chinese class through web conferencing. System, 62, 26–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2016.07.003
Kear, K., Chetwynd, F., Williams, J., & Donelan, H. (2012). Web conferencing for synchronous online tutorials: Perspectives of tutors using a new medium. Computers & Education, 58(3), 953–963. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.015