Monday, September 6, 2010

The Value of Web Conferences

Web conferences hold many benefits. For companies, these usually include cost savings, increased productivity, and flexibility in scheduling. As students in an online course, web conferences mean that we actually get to converse with our professors, see what they look like, and ask pertinent questions. Unfortunately, many of the web conferences I have attended have been plagued with technical glitches such as lost audio. This leaves text as the primary form of communication and it is difficult to keep up with all of the comments. Additionally, it is hard to know which student’s question is being answered if the professor does not start her answer with a student’s name. Webcams are wonderful tools, but perhaps it is time for our professors to try a different web conference service.

Overall, I do appreciate the communication option of web conferencing with our professors and fellow students. It allows us to feel like we are more than a name on a screen. It also permits us to clarify points of confusion that always seems to surface during online instruction. It’s similar to poor interpretations of e-mail messages. Someone always tends to interpret e-mail the wrong way by perceiving emotion that is simply not there. With online curriculum, people tend to infer the wrong direction and make false assumptions about the assignments. Maybe we just over-think it; make it too difficult. Of course, conversing about these items and clearing up the misinterpretations during the web conferences is invaluable (when the technology is working).

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