VIDEOCONFERENCING IN DISTANCE EDUCATION; STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS

P. Irannejad1, N. Shahmohammadi2

1Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch (IRAN)
2Ministry of Education (IRAN)
Videoconferencing technologies are being increasingly used for distance learning. These technologies lend themselves to applications requiring real-time interaction and visual communication. They can serve the needs of access and equity, maximise teaching expertise and bring value-added benefits in linking institutions, staff and students. Videoconferencing is capable of supporting multi-campus institutions and regionalised teaching where it is difficult to provide specialist teachers. The users of video-conferencing technology reiterate its educational and managerial benefits, cost savings and productivity.

The paper analyses the potential strengths and weaknesses of videoconferencing emerging from its being a technology which draws upon more traditional forms of communication used in face-to-face situations in the classroom. Its main limitation lies in the currently high installation costs. It offers teachers, trainers and service providers new ways of communicating across geographical boundaries. For a wider application of videoconferencing to take place, a mind-set is needed which values equity and is shaped by a vision of the regional, national and international potential.