Broadband videoconferencing as a tool for learner-centred distance learning in higher education
This paper outlines the possibilities for using broadband videoconferencing within the larger context of changing the focus for teaching from the teacher to the learners. It also explores opportunities that might be created by this technology to facilitate learner-centred engagement in learning and to provide new opportunities for collaboration and support for students studying by the distance mode. As part of the wider discussion, it presents a decision-making framework for teachers to consider when integrating videoconferencing into their curriculum. The bandwidths possible from broadband Internet connection rather than the integrated services digital network transmission increase the richness of videoconferencing to a much closer approximation of natural communication, thus creating opportunities for more creative uses for the medium. The outcomes of trials undertaken at the University of New England during the last two years provide the basis for predicting the usefulness of the technology for learner-centered interactions when the majority of students are learning from locations quite remote from the main campus.