Tag Archives: communication

Where to go next with web conferencing?

As chair of the Synchronous Learning & Collaboration Administrators Group (SLCAG) at UF, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where synchronous communication is going on the web. In academic settings, web or video conferencing often seeks to re-create the classroom experience in a mediated context. Obviously, this subverts McLuhan’s “medium is the message” aphorism, but it also draws attention to the need for connection in human-to-human-to-computer interaction.digital hand and human hand touching

It wasn’t long after the first phone calls were made that people wanted to add video to make us seem closer. Bell labs debuted the first videophones at the 1964 World’s Fair, yet the technology never really took hold until the past 10 years. Now there’s an expectation that what you hear WILL ALSO BE what you see.

So, pragmatically speaking, what does this mean for education? Is it really worth trying to re-create a classroom in a synchronous digital environment?

We’ve all sat passively through online webinars, relishing in the fact the presenter has no idea whether we are playing Angry Birds or wearing pants. I’ve even heard instructional technologists suggest that the only viable web conferencing utilities are those that completely take over a user’s desktop, locking out any other application functionality. When I hear such a suggestion I immediately wonder whether that person could possibly have anything interesting enough to say to warrant such overt narcissism. ~Doubtful.

Many of us have also taken part in computer-mediated realtime communication that was both intimate and productive. In those cases, was it the technology that effected the productivity? Or was it merely the semblance of intimacy and mutual accountability that allowed the time to be “productive?”

film for thought

My mind hasn’t been abuzz with intersecting plot lines and narrative celluloid twists for a while now. But I have a video project to put together for my Society, Technology, and Culture class. The project (along with a little liminal free time) has given me a little inspiration.

I have been thinking a lot about bio-technology and cognitive changes over time. Plenty of literature and studies have been done looking in to how our cognitive mapping and synaptic connections can be modified. For my little movie, I want to look in to how we are re-wiring our synapses on a daily basis.

Computers and the web are giving us infinite possibilities for knowledge acquisition and retrieval. I have to wonder whether our bodies are ready for the intellectual hyperactivity navigating the web enables within us. Or are we going to reach a system overload somewhere down the line?

I will be adding links to relevant literature soon, but for now, here’s a PhotoShop thought of what I have in mind.