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, audiographic, 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: * Use a telecommunications channel * Link people at multiple locations * Interactive to provide two-way communications * Dynamic to require users' active participation Interactive TechnologiesThe new systems have varying degrees of interactivity - the capability to talk back to the user. They are enabling and satellites, computers, teletext, viewdata, 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-massified so that a special message can be exchanged with each individual in a large audience. They are the opposite o 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 anytime 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 TeleconferencesAudio Teleconference: 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.Audiographics Teleconference: Uses narrowband telecommunications channels to transmit visual information such as graphics, alpha-numerics, 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.Audiographics can be used for meetings and distance learning.Computer Teleconference: 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 asychronous mode is electronic mail. Using electronic mail (E-Mail), memos, reports, updates, 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,...
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