Video conferencing is a set of interactive telecommunication technologies that allows two or more participants from different locations to interact via two-way communication through the transfer of video and audio data. Video conferencing can be used for social networking, educational purposes and is commonly used in business organization settings. This medium of communication is rapidly growing, and there have been signs of both positive and negative impacts on culture and individuals. First, we will discuss the social benefits of video conferencing. I know many would think, “Why would having a meeting be consider a social event?” Video conferencing is not just for having meetings. It allows you to talk to long distance family members and friends in different locations, as if you were right there. You are able to see their surroundings and it is always better to put a voice with a face. It also allows you to do computer sharing and provides other useful tools to make your experience even more worth wild. A commonly used web based host is Skype. Skype is a free online software application that enables you to make both voice calls and video calls over the internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free but there is a fee, if you plan to call a landline phone. In order to enjoy Skype, you need: either a computer or mobile device that is enables the Skype application, access to a high, quality internet connection and available space on your hard drive to download the software. A webcam or camera phone is highly recommended so that the users are able to see each other. One of the benefits of Skype is that you get the illusion of communicating face to face with the other users. I am a customer of Skype and I love it. I get a notification that someone is on Skype and with the click of a button, I’m calling my friend, who goes to school to school hundreds of miles away, and can have a conversation as if we were in the same room. I have that opportunity of meeting many of their friends over Skype and I am also able to help with school work. By having access to a web cam, my friend can either show me a problem from the textbook or they could use a feature within Skype called screen sharing, which allows you to see what is on their computer screen. So far, I have had a pleasant experience with the use of Skype and there have been articles related to Skype and the impact it has had on society. The article, “Chatting over Skype, This Time from the Sofa,” discusses the rapid growth of Skype and the company’s more recent projects. According to Rik Fairle, “Skype has left the desktop. The popular video-calling service, once the domain of computer-to-computer chatters and more recently smartphone users, is setting its sights on a more ubiquitous platform: the living room TV. New Web-connected televisions from Panasonic and Samsung now ship with the Skype software preloaded. Add a TV webcam and you're ready to make high-definition video calls from your sofa.” As you can see, web conferencing is playing a huge role in society. This tool is great for socializing and has many benefits. As web conferencing continues to progress, many higher education institutes are adopting web based communication courses. There have been many studies pertaining to the effectiveness of communicating face-to-face versus communicating with the instructor through video conferencing. Many students that I have spoken with about taking online courses say that the classes are more convenient for those who work and have families. They also say that the classes are typically easier than those classes that meet face-to-face. The University of Missouri – Saint Louis offers a variety of online classes. Many of the instructors use the “Wimba classroom” to conduct their lectures. Professor Lin Chew, in the marketing department, allow for students to come to the class room or view the lectures from wherever they are over the web. Professor Chew said “I...
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