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  • Dr Gary Ellem

Bringing the face to face experience to distance education


One of the great challenges of distance education is overcoming the absence of the face to face class experience.

Students come to education because they want build a life for themselves and become a valued member of broader society. This means that they need more than to be simply served information, they need to be motivated, grow strong personal & professional networks, and build a shared moral matrix that allows them to function well in teams and as leaders.

The growth of elearning and online learning management systems has dramatically improved the ease with which students can be supplied information and tasks. What has been lagging until now, is the ability for distance education students to engage in the real time face to face experience that is so essential to building motivation, relationships and the ability to engage in teams so that they can learn to be effective in the world.

iSee brings face to face to distance education

iSee began in the Smart Services Cooperative Research Center, an intiative of the Australian Government to develop new technologies for the service economy including education. The core technology for live video in a multiplayer game engine was developed that allows the face to face experience to be brought to distance education.

The core iSee technology allows for teams of people to meet face to face via webcam video and work together in online virtual worlds in a similar way to how you would in the real world. This means the ability to move around and talk to others, being instantly able to recognize others by their face, mannerisms and voice. Importantly, because these relationships are based on live video, they are authentic and an extension of relationships in the real world.

New world of capabilities with spatial audio

One of the big differences in the social and team work experience between iSee and traditional video conferencing is the ability in iSee to have many verbal conversations going on in the same virtual world at the same time.

In iSee, just like the normal face to face world, voice conversations are separated by distance and have direction so that you can easily work out who is talking. This is great for meeting people, making friends and working in teams where swapping from one conversation to another is as simple as moving to where the conversation is happening.

With iSee it's never been so easy to give students guidance, answer questions and help them move seamlessly into and groups. Students can build networks, make friends, work peer to peer on problem based learning projects, collaborate on content creation and get feedback from their teacher and peers.

Share boards make facilitating group work simple

Peer to peer problem based learning is one of the great ways to help students engage deeper with content while building friendships and learning to be effective operators in team environments. iSee makes the facilitation of real time group work simple for distance education by matching the capabilities of spatial audio with the creation and use of collaboration boards.

To use collaboration boards groups simply move to pre-configured boards scattered around the space, or create their own. Each group can share their own content on the collaboration boards and co-create through shared documents and screen sharing. For teachers and facilitators it's then intuitive to move around between the groups to observe their work and provide encouragement and feedback.

#AudienceEngagement #Blog

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