IP videoconferences open a rich array of new possibilities for distance education

IP videoconferences are all about outside of physical boundaries like buildings, universities, states and countries. Quite often face-to-face meetings are not practical, due to time limits or budget constraints. With IP videoconferencing people can hold face-to-face meetings, even though they are located on the other side of the continent from each other. Videoconferencing requires a few simple hardware components: a video camera, a microphone and a sound card for each participating computer. The cost of this hardware has dropped dramatically and now it is quite affordable for the universities, providing distance education.

Distance learning is a complex of educational services, provided to a large audience, which membership is geographically situated in various places. These services are developed on the basis of a specialized informational-educational environment by means of a remote exchange of educational information (IP videoconferences through satellite communication channels, satellite television, radio etc).

There are actually two main types of IP videoconferences: point-to-point and multipoint. A point-to-point IP videoconference is when one sites dials the other site directly, similar to how users would connect through a standard telephone call. In a multipoint videoconference three or more sites connect together.

Learning at a distance is suitable for training in any field. The system is especially widespread during a corporate training of firms' and companies' staff. There is no problem or lack of highly qualified teachers, since a well created distance learning course can be easily translated in an interactive mode for all participants of studies. The videoconference system was designed to serve emerging needs of education today and this technology makes it possible for students in many locations to participate in the learning process by asking and answering questions and sharing results immediately and spontaneously.  It reduces costly travel expenses and permits a more efficient use of time, bringing new cost savings to universities that teach at a distance.

IP videoconferencing is a technology that uses the Internet as a transmission medium. Applying a camera, microphone, monitor and a piece of equipment, called a codec, IP video allows two or more people in different locations to communicate with each other in real time. All parties can see and hear each other simultaneously. This technology opens a rich array of new possibilities for schools and other organizations in a variety of areas, such as a formal classroom instruction of entire courses, tutoring, connecting with guest speakers, inter-organizational collaboration, professional development and community events.

Many educators feel IP videoconferences are a beneficial supplement to the existing curricula. Real-time, face-to-face communication serves to dissolve an obstacle of geography, helping students feel more connected to the subject at hand. Being actively engaged with subjects builds relationships and supports collaboration. Some educators feel that videoconferencing improves retention; otherwise static educational experiences are more meaningful. For instance, bringing in guest speakers or allowing for virtual field trips and other experiences might not previously have been possible due to geographical, time or financial limitations.

IP videoconferences are indispensable assistants in the distance learning activities of universities and solve effectively current educational problems and difficulties of a collaborative team work, requiring a personal participation of students.

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