My experience of videoconference teaching

This was written by Patrick Lemarié in his blog in April 2014.

Thanks go to Patrick for permission to reproduce it here!

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My experience of videoconference teaching

My experience of videoconference teaching

 


My first experience in videoconference training took place in 2007 mainly using MSN and Skype until 2011. At the time I delivered training sessions for a single trainee per session. The course subject was English for business and tourism.

 

The equipment included:
• A computer for the instructor.
• A computer for the trainee.
• Webcams, mikes and headphones.
• MSN and Skype services.


My second significant experience of videoconference training occurred in March 2012.

 

I delivered a course in international management (in French) for trainees employed at a Japanese development agency located in Tananarive, Madagascar, in collaboration with a training firm also located in Tananarive, Madagascar DLC.

The equipment included:
• Two computers for the instructor, plus a webcam, a mike and loudspeakers.
• A computer for Madagascar DLC, webcams, mikes and loudspeakers, plus 2 large screens in the training room.
• POLYCOM software and Skype on both sides.

4 trainees attended the training course in Madagascar DLC’s training room in Tananarive.

A technician was in charge of the audio/video control (video capture and filming of trainees while speaking, audio and web connection flow control).

Trainees could see me in their training room, on two large screens. One of the screens showed the trainer and the other one displayed the PowerPoint file of the course.

 

My experience of videoconference teaching


The training course lasted for 15 hours broken down into 3 hour sessions, with a 15 minute break in the middle.

 

The first comments to be made are as follows:
• Reliable equipment is required (computer and an uninterrupted connection with a high bandwidth).
• One needs to be free from any technical worries to be able to concentrate on the training session.

This service is similar to the performance of a television host who must captivate his audience and remain constantly active to avoid any silent periods.

I would say that if one compares a course delivered at the university in an amphitheatre in front of about fifty students with videoconference training, the instructor must be constantly active and captivate his trainees by dynamically conducting the training session.

My opinion is that the instructor must practice participatory training methods to optimize communication with trainees during the videoconference training.

During the course, I asked the trainees to work on discussion themes based on their own experience relating to international management, so that they might express their views in turn and provide a constructive debate between their colleagues and the instructor. I maintained a flow of questions after any intervention to sustain the debate and to encourage participants to express their views, just as a television host would with guests at a talk show. Communication must be maintained. I doubt that using videoconference to train people in the mode of university lectures alone would work.

Other issues may be raised concerning the posture of the instructor in front of the video camera.


Standing or sitting in front of the camera?

 

Standing:

The trainer can show a board but this requires the presence of a technician or another person to focus to the board, which is obviously impossible if the trainer is alone when delivering the training session, as he cannot see to the settings and deliver the training session at the same time, and would not be able to maintain satisfactory visual communication with the trainees.

Sitting:

I think it is better to be sitting in front of the cam to provide a single view of the trainer. Any training medium (file, PowerPoint, etc) would be displayed on the screen located in the distant training place.


My experience about videoconference training is still limited (in terms of hours taught) and I would ask trainers having used this tool in various sessions, to share their experiences with me and our other colleagues.

 

I am looking forward to hearing and reading your comments so that we may initiate a fruitful discussion to improve our professional practices.

 

Original article written by Patrick Lemarié, published in his blog, April 2014.


April 8, 2014
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