What is Teleconferencing ?
Teleconferencing means meeting through a telecommunications medium. It is a generic term for linking people between two or more locations by electronics. There are at least six types of teleconferencing: audio, audio graphic, computer, video, business television (BTV), and distance education. The methods used differ in the technology, but common factors contribute to the shared definition of teleconferencing:
The new systems have varying degrees of interactivity – the capability to talk back to the user. They are enabling and satellites, computers, teletext, view data, cassettes, cable, and videodiscs all fit the same emerging pattern.
They provide ways for individuals to step out of the mass audiences and take an active role in the process by which information is transmitted. The new technologies are de-massifier so that a special message can be exchanged with each individual in a large audience. They are the opposite mass media and shift control to the user.
Many are asynchronous and can send or receive a message at a time convenient for individuals without being in communication at the same time. This overcomes time as a variable affecting communication.
A video, data and voice delivery system reduces travel costs. When the material is retrieved and saved to a video tape or disc, the material can be used at any time or anyplace.
As more interactive technologies emerge, the value of being an independent learner will increase. Research shows that learning from new technologies is as effective as traditional methods. Large groups are cost-effective and everyone gets the same information.
Types of Teleconferences
Voice-only; sometimes called conference calling. Interactively links people in remote locations via telephone lines. Audio bridges tie all lines together. Meetings can be conducted via audio conference. Preplanning is necessary which includes naming a chair, setting an agenda, and providing printed materials to participants ahead of time so that they can be reviewed.
Distance learning can be conducted by audio conference. In fact, it is one of the most underutilized, yet cost effective methods available to education. Instructors should receive training on how to best utilize audio conferences to augment other forms of distance learning.
2.Audio graphics Teleconference
Uses narrow-band telecommunications channels to transmit visual information such as graphics, alpha-numeric, documents, and video pictures as an adjunct to voice communication. Other terms are desk-top computer conferencing and enhanced audio. Devices include electronic tablets/boards, freeze-frame video terminals, integrated graphics systems (as part of personal computers), Fax, remote-access microfiche and slide projectors, optical graphic scanners, and voice/data terminals.
Audio graphics can be used for meetings and distance learning.
Uses telephone lines to connect two or more computers and modems. Anything that can be done on a computer can be sent over the lines. It can be synchronous or asynchronous. An example of an asynchronous mode is electronic mail. Using electronic mail (E-Mail), memos, reports, updates, and newsletters can be sent to anyone on the local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). Items generated on computer which are normally printed and then sent by facsimile can be sent by E-Mail.
Computer conferencing is an emerging area for distance education. Some institutions offer credit programs completely by computer. Students receive texts and workbooks via mail. Through common files assigned to a class which each student can assess, teachers upload syllabi, lectures, grades and remarks. Students download these files, compose their assignment and remarks off-line, and then upload them to the common files.
Students and instructors are usually required to log on for a prescribed number of days during the week. Interaction is a large component of the students’ grades.
Through computers, faculty, students and administrators have easy access to one another as well as access to database resources provided through libraries. The academic resources of libraries and special resources can be accessed such as OCLC, ERIC, and Internet.
Administrators can access student files, retrieve institutional information from central repositories such as district or system offices, government agencies, or communicate with one another. Other resources can be created such as updates on state or federal legislation.
Combines audio and video to provide voice communications and video images. Can be one-way video/two-way audio, or two-way video/two-way audio. It can display anything that can be captured by a TV camera. The advantage is the capability to display moving images. In two-way audio/video systems, a common application is to show people which creates a social presence that resembles face-to-face meetings and classes and enables participants to see the facial expressions and physical demeanour of participants at remote sites. Graphics are used to enhance understanding. There are three basic systems: freeze frame, compressed, and full-motion video.
Video conferencing is an effective way to use one teacher who teaches to a number of sites. It is very cost effective for classes which may have a small number of students enrolled at each site. In many cases, video conferencing enables the institution or a group of institutions to provide courses which would be cancelled due to low enrolment or which could not be supported otherwise because of the cost of providing an instructor in an unusual subject area. Rural areas benefit particularly from classes provided through video conferencing when they work with a larger metropolitan institution that has full-time faculty.
Through teleconferencing, institutions are able to serve all students equitably.
- Use a telecommunications channel
- Link people at multiple locations
- Interactive to provide two-way communications
- Dynamic to require users’ active participation
Benefits of using teleconferencing
1.Move Information – Not People
Electronic delivery is more efficient than physically moving people to a site, whether it is a faculty member or administrator.
Content presented by one or many sources is received in many places simultaneously and instantly. Travel is reduced resulting in more productive time. Communication is improved and meetings are more efficient. It adds a competitive edge that face-to-face meetings do not.
Costs (travel, meals, lodging) are reduced by keeping employees in the office, speeding up product development cycles, improving performance through frequent meetings with timely information.
Through any origination site in the world. Larger Audiences: More people can attend. The larger the audience, the lower the cost per person.
More people can attend. The larger the audience, the lower cost per person.
Useful for business, associations, hospitals, and institutions to discuss, inform, train, educate or present.
With a remote receive or transmit truck, a transmit or receive site can be located anywhere.
Signals can be encrypted (scrambled) when it is necessary. Encryption prevents outside viewers.
Provides a shared sense of identity. People feel more a part of the group…more often. Individuals or groups at multiple locations can be linked frequently.
For time-critical information, sites can be linked quickly. An audio or point-to-point teleconference can be convened in three minutes.
Dynamic; requires the user’s active participation. It enhances personal communication. When used well for learning, the interactivity will enhance the learning and the teaching experience.
Disadvantages of using teleconferencing
As you work your way up the corporate ladder, you might increasingly be asked to participate in meetings, and many of these may be conducted via the telephone. If you start your own business, travel expenses might make in-person meetings cost-prohibitive and teleconferencing a more viable option.
Body language, facial expressions and work samples you use to shine when communicating face to face won’t help you during teleconferences, so weigh the pros and cons of in-person meetings vs. teleconferencing, especially if you are selling a product, service or yourself.
1.Lack of Body Language
Teleconferencing doesn’t let you read other participants’ body language, which can give you clues as to whether you need to change your direction during a meeting. For example, if the person you’re meeting with crosses his arms, it might be a sign of defensiveness and that you are not connecting. Seeing this, you would be able to soften your message. Someone slouching or tapping their fingers can signal they are losing interest, letting you know to change the subject or finish your point. In a teleconferencing situation, you do not get these cues to make changes in your presentation.
2.Lack of Eye Contact
Eye contact is another key benefit you lose when teleconferencing. Someone who looks down at the floor might be lying, giving you a clue not to take him at his word if you are interviewing him for a job or involved in a sales call. If someone’s eyes dart around the room, they might be bored. If you or your meeting partners absolutely can’t make an in-person meeting, ask about videoconferencing capabilities. Using the video cameras on our computers and the availability of low-cost and free video services such as Skype, it might be just as easy to organize a video meeting.
People who teleconference do so using landlines, cell phones and voiceover Internet protocol, or VOIP, phones. Plan on interruptions during telephone meetings when calls are dropped and Internet connections go dead. Many people attend teleconferences while driving, talking on cell phones that can create static or other noise as the user moves in and out of dead zones. Some people take advantage of teleconferences to stay at home that day, leading to crying babies, barking dogs or people at the door disrupting your call.
4.No Visual Presentation
The ability to share graphs, charts, photos, reports, drawings, videos, product samples and other visual messages is important to make a sale, whether you’re trying to get a customer to buy, co-workers to understand a new procedure or your boss to agree with a pitch you’re making. When organizing or attending a teleconference that would benefit from visuals, upload documents or videos to a company or personal website or email information to attendees before the meeting starts.
Disadvantages of teleconferencing staffing necessary learning time to adapt to technology technology may be expensive diminishes personal touch hearing issues No Visual Presentation Interruptions Lack of Eye contact Lack of body Language .
IT system behind teleconferencing
- Personal computer
- Telephone lines or satellite hook-up
Effect of Teleconferencing on Business
- Let all branches know what is going on
- Easy communication over long distance
- Saves time, money, and energy
- Reduces face to face