Videoconferencing to enrich learning experience

By: Hasan Kamoonpuri

A new trend in recent times in several Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Oman is that they are using videoconferencing (VC) technology to provide more enriching learning experiences to students.

In doing so, they’re bringing top experts from faraway places into their virtual classrooms, and also reviving the concept of distance education.

In a chat with Oman Observer, Prof SL Gupta, Dean, Waljat College of Applied Sciences, who has put in place a VC facility on the campus, says “It’s been a while since videoconferencing has been in education.”

Its results are surfacing now. Videoconferencing is good a way of sharing resources between different universities across the borders in different continents, he adds.

The use of videoconferencing — not pre-recorded lectures — is catching up fast not only in Oman but in several GCC educational centres, as it allows online courses, and not webcam video, which is static and is designed to show just one person.

Videoconferencing involves higher-quality cameras, larger lenses, and faster compression for sending the video signal, allowing for two-way interaction. It’s a concept often found in the boardroom and now making a foray in classrooms in order to further refine higher education.

Videoconferencing makes the experience similar to a face-to-face class. Students go to the same video-outfitted classroom every day and sit around a table, but on one wall, instead of a blackboard, there’s a screen showing the teacher and the students at the other campus, says a student of Majan College.

There are also computers at the back of the room equipped with cameras, so students can do pair work with their counterparts at the other university. The HEIs are also introducing tablets and touch-screens, which allow the teacher to demonstrate scripts and share them with both classrooms, and they use document cameras so students can submit written work in real time.

Several colleges in Oman have already seen videoconference seminars run successfully, and have recently upped the ante in the realm of two-way distance education.

Videoconferencing is a cost effective way to conduct a meeting between two or more participants in different continents by using computer networks to transmit audio and video data, explains a lecturer of Middle East College,

Students who have attended VC classroom lectures say videoconferencing is blurring the differences between traditional and virtual teaching and learning. Thanks to VC tools, teaching and learning continues to expand beyond the boundaries of the university campus.


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