Tag Archives: Research Articles

Lit Review: Educational Researchers Using Videoconferencing to Collaborate

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Fiege, K. H. M. (2005). Educational researchers using real-time videoconferencing to collaborate: Thoughts and feelings shared. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertation. (AAT MR09088)

Summary / Interesting Points

This qualitative study consists of an interview with 17 participants who collaborated using high-bandwidth videoconferencing. The participants were asked about their definitions of real-time collaboration and videoconferencing, how much value they placed on collaboration, their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of videoconferencing, if they would use this medium in the future, and if they thought information was effectively shared via videoconference. In addition, they were asked about ways to improve collaboration in a VC, how often they used VC to collaborate, and what they thought was the most misunderstood concept about VC. They were asked to describe their ideal VC/collaboration system, if VC changed how they collaborated, and what their ideal method of collaboration would be. Side comment. This study seems to be a great model for writing good interview questions!

The detail of the responses from the participants was very interesting and intriguing to read. I could see some of those same issues in my work, and in other cases where we use it soooo often, the issues raised are hardly a barrier. A few of the participants in the study clearly did not have a good experience and thought it could be used best by shutting it off! Others had more experience and understanding of what could be done and how to set up meetings effectively, and they had much more positive things to say. The study is full of good suggestions for an “ideal” system which would be highly useful to vendors developing their systems.

One of the participants said that videoconferencing forces you to plan more and therefore have a better meeting. It’s “quicker, shorter” and you get “down to business quicker” and less distracted. Have you noticed this too? One board in MI meets via videoconference for two hours a month, another one meets all day face to face. Hmm! Some of the responses were funny – including in a videoconference you can mute the audio for someone that annoys you, or say you have a phone call and run out of the room and vent about the person who is annoying you. However, this brings to light the importance of planned careful conflict resolution!


The really useful results from this study are the “pedagogically-based strategies” an educational researcher could use in using VC. These are direct quotes from Appendix B (p. 102-103):

Before the videoconference meeting

  • State purpose of collaborative meeting
  • Determine if videoconferencing is the appropriate medium
  • List all attendees
  • State location of all sites
  • Determine what equipment is available
  • Determine codecs at all sites
  • Determine collaborative tools being used
  • Determine who the tech is a each site – name & contact info
  • Create an agenda
  • Disseminate agenda to attendees
  • Test ahead of time – mics, cameras, lighting, audio, connection
  • Disseminate and discuss videoconferencing etiquette with all attendees
  • Ensure appropriate lighting is in place
  • Provide materials to attendees ahead of time
  • Ensure a level of comfort with the technologies being used
  • Provide an opportunity for attendees to familiarize themselves with the VC technologies

During the videoconference meeting

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early to the meeting
  • Introduce or have introductions of all attendees
  • Make initial eye contact with all attendees
  • Point out all the features of the videoconference system to the attendees
  • Review the back-up plan in case of technical difficulties
  • Review proper etiquette (talk to camera, use microphones, avoid sudden movement and noises, speak naturally, be conscious of body language, posture, and facial expressions)
  • Be prepared to stay for the entire duration of the meeting
  • Ensure that all attendees’ electronic devices are turned off
  • Review where facilities, phones and fire exits are at local and remote sites
  • Talk to the cameras
  • If appropriate: Establish a steering committee, Address technology literacy and troubleshooting techniques, Set objectives, vision, goals and/or outcomes for collaboration, Review positive outcomes of previous meeting, Discuss rewards and consequences for collaborative efforts

After the videoconference meeting

  • Discuss and agree upon a follow-up procedure with all attendees
  • Thank all attendees for their participation
  • Ensure that the system is disconnected from the remote sites
  • Turn of all appropriate monitors and peripherals
  • Follow up the meeting with all attendees via asynchronous or synchronous communications
  • Ensure that the contact person knows when the meeting is complete
  • Ensure room/area is secure before leaving


Interesting definitions: DVC – desktop videoconferencing, and IVC – integrated videoconferencing. I bet you usually think of that “I” as representing “interaction”, not “integrated”. Have any of you heard that use before?

Besides reminding our (very comfy with VC) selves what the challenges are for newbies when using VC, this study has very interesting comments and issues raised by the participants. The wide variety of perpsectives certainly are a strength to the study.

The most useful part is the suggestions for the meetings. What do you think of this list? How is YOUR committee meeting via VC doing at these best practices? I can see a couple meetings I attend that do fairly well, but noticed some places for improvement as well.

Question for you!

Do you think anything is missing from the list? What would you add?

Lit Review: Geographically Dispersed Teams

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Baker, G. A. (2000). Understanding the role of information technology in supporting geographically dispersed teams: An experimental study. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 9994205)


This experimental study used the 2×2 factorial design to compare the function of groups with text only, audio only, text and video, and audio and video. The groups were playing simulation games that required them to choose between short term individual interest and long term collective interest. In the study, the participants used CU-SeeMe, but the study references room based videoconferencing as well. The participants were undergraduate students. The technical method of group interaction was compared with the quality of the group’s strategy decision, the group cohesiveness, and the group’s task performance.

The results show that the quality of the strategy decision had a significant effect on task performance, and that task performance had an effect on group cohesiveness. Video added a significant impact on the strategy decision, but not on cohesiveness. The text based communication allowed for greater concurrency because many people could talk at the same time.

Interesting Ideas

Important pieces of group collaboration: “the distribution of communication among participants, how group members interact in the dissemination of information, and the members’ capability to communication information and group choice” (p. 6).

Synchronicity is the ability of a medium to provide rapid communication in both directions and how easily the receiver can interrupt the sender (p. 15). Concurrency is how many simultaneous conversations can happen in the medium. Hmm. Twitter has high concurrency!

Comments & Application

It seems to me that studies done with undergraduate students where they are working on work that is just a simulation should certainly be taken with a grain of salt when applying to actual work in the real world.

However, this study confirmed for me how we work in the Jazz workshop. All tools are used – collaborative document sharing, Twitter, Skype, chat rooms, discussion boards, wikis, and audio conferencing, and videoconferencing – both desktop and room baseed. We pick and choose the tools based on what is needed. For the early planning meetings with 20+ facilitators attending, we use the phone conference supported by a text chat in Skype. The text chat allows for the “side conversation” or supporting conversation to what is covered in the audio review of the content. This way everyone can be involved but it’s more efficient. When we get down to the planning the week before Jazz and the evening debriefs with facilitators, we are meeting with 3-4 facilitators in a 4×4 screen layout via video. Here the video is critical as we plan, debrief, mentor, and problem solve the issues that arose in the workshop that day.

The important lesson is to know and use all the tools, and be comfortable with which tool is most appropriate for the task at hand.

Another important lesson comes from the relatively low level of group coherence for all the distance groups. It is very hard to get to know and trust others when meeting at a distance. Yet, in the Jazz workshop, we expect just that! We need to continue to be deliberate about ways to connect the facilitators before hand that we can learn to know and trust each other even more before the actual workshop occurs. It certainly takes time.

Question for You
What do you think of these results? Do you prefer a certain way of meeting with those at a distance? Why?

Lit Review: The Global Classroom: Advancing Cultural Awareness in Special Schools Through Collaborative Work Using ICT

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Abbott, L., Austin, R., Mulkeen, A., & Metcalfe, N. (2004). The global classroom: Advancing cultural awareness in special schools through collaborative work using ICT. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 19(2), 225-240. doi:10.1080/08856250410001678504

Summary: This article reported on a qualitative study which was comprised of 10 teacher interviews. The participants had been part of the Dissolving Boundaries Programme, which pairs schools in the North and South of Ireland to design and implement a year long collaborative project. Examples of the projects are here. Many of the participating schools are special needs schools serving a wide variety of students. Two technology tools were used – an asynchronous space with threaded discussion, and videoconferencing. The teachers preferred videoconferencing because many of the students did not have the skill to type or remember how to write to their partner. Talking was much easier.

The keys to success in this project were the strong support at the school level, good relationships with their partner school, planning a timetable carefully to meet the needs of both schools, convenient access to equipment, and both partners being comfortable with the technology. The project is highly supported by the department of education in both countries as well.

Comments: This is a great model of long term collaboration over videoconferencing. View the picture gallery online here. It’s interesting that for the special needs students, the real time videoconferencing was much easier. If you haven’t looked into this project, it’s worth your time!

Training Students on VC

I was reviewing two documents today – Owston’s 2007 study on the factors for sustainable innovation of technology, and Anderson and Rourke’s (2005) VC literature review.

Owston includes in his “essential conditions” the student support of the innovation. Anderson and Rourke find a “promising practice” in “student empowerment through operation with the technology.”

It just occurred to me that I haven’t thought too much about how to get students excited about videoconferencing. Mostly because they usually are automatically excited about it.

But haven’t you ever noticed students who are quite nervous about videoconferencing and want to stay off camera? I have noticed this  especially with middle and high school students.

So, here’s my question to all of us. How are we making sure students feel comfortable with videoconferencing before they go into a content specific VC? Arnold, Cayley and Griffith (2004) have some interesting ideas for “first time VCs”. Our connections with Mexico lately have been very low-key informal events. Our connection on Friday with the seniors in TX certainly broke the ice for students on both sides.

What do you think? Should we think about this more? Are there some more specific things we can do to make sure there is student support for VC in our schools? Please comment.

New VC Dissertation Published: Kindergarten VC

This morning I received an exciting alert in my inbox. Another dissertation has been published on videoconferencing. This one is by Debra Piecka – who organized the connection we did with Namibia a couple summers ago.

I’m sharing the abstract here, and will read and post more about it later. Here’s the direct link to the dissertation in ProQuest if you have access to that dissertation database.

Show and tell: Learning with interactive videoconferencing in kindergarten
by Piecka, Debra C. Burkey, Ed.D., Duquesne University, 2008, 426 pages; AAT 3338618
Abstract (Summary)

The research investigated how kindergartners make meaning using interactive videoconferencing. The study explored two research questions: (1) What types of meanings are being formed by the kindergartners during interactive videoconferences and,( 2) What are the nature of young children’s emerging inquiries and dialogue surrounding their use of interactive videoconferencing in their classroom? The study embodied a Vygotskian perspective as the theoretical framework in order to meet demands associated with the young participants’ vulnerability, developmental appropriateness, and the students’ interactive learning environment. Employing an ethnographic, participant observation methodology, the research design was informed by three criteria: (1) a pilot study, (2) Miles and Huberman’s (1994a) recurring themes in qualitative data analysis, and (3) literature review results emphasizing the nuances of contemporary culture. Field observation occurred from October 2007 through February 2008 in a Southwestern Pennsylvania kindergarten classroom. Students participated in 7 videoconferences with distant peers or content experts. Data from a gingerbread and puppetry videoconference and an astronomy program were selected for further analysis based on their ability to illustrate poignant examples of how the kindergartners formed meaning during collaborations. Data analysis procedures involved the importing of dialogue from videoconferencing transcriptions, field notes, and other artifacts into the ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software for open coding, data display, and grounded theory development.

Results developed from open coding and concept maps in ATLAS.ti informed the following theory development. First, learning with interactive videoconferencing in kindergarten supports meaning making from four Vygotskian tenets: (1) the social origins of learning, (2) sign and tool use through mediated activity, (3) the importance of language, and (4) support for the zone of proximal development. Additionally, the students’ meaning making involved the tenets’ entwinement rather than the solitary occurrence of individual tenets. Regarding the kindergartners’ emerging inquiries, during sustained interactive videoconferencing levels, children’s inquiries and dialogue evidenced exploratory talk that was purposeful, reflective and self-directed. It also indicated comfort with the technology. This study is unique in its multidisciplinary application of Vygotskian learning theory to kindergartners’ meaning making with videoconferencing and provides a foundation for extended use of qualitative methods to examine young children’s’ learning with technology.

I think it’s so interesting that this study is on kindergarten students.  Last week I tested with Richard Sands for Read Around the Planet, and he said his kindergarten teachers use VC the most. One of my “top teachers” that I studied last spring was a kindergarten teacher who did 12 VCs in the 2007-2008 school year.  One of the studies that I’ve been using in my collaborations presentation is on a kindergarten sustained collaboration. And, finally, one of Sue Porter’s favorite Read Around the Planet stories is of a kindergartener. So, how about you? How are your kindergarten classes using VC?

Videoconferencing Adjectives

I’m continuing this little mini-series with some of the results from a recent survey of my top VC-using teachers. Read more about it in the first post of this series. Remember, they are using videoconferencing to support curriculum instruction (not full length courses).

The question featured in this post is the following:

If your principal or superintendent walked into your classroom during a videoconference, give five adjectives to describe what they would see happening.

Videoconferencing Adjectives

Now isn’t this a nice set of words!

Notice the motivation adjectives: excited, smiles, amazed, happy, laughter, interesting, interested.

Notice the learning adjectives: learning, engaged reflective, involvement/involved, attentive, cooperative, active, interactive/interacting, communication, higher-level, knowledge, perform, reinforcement.

I did take out the word students – as many teachers wrote “students” after each adjective – and so it was huge again like the first wordle I did in this series. But I wanted you to see the adjectives larger and clearer.

See if you can find the one word that isn’t so positive. 🙂 Yes, I’ve seen a few kids do this in a VC. Have you?

Are these good reasons to use videoconferencing in your curriculum? Why or why not? Please comment.

Lit Review: The Use of Videoconferencing as a Medium for Collaboration of Experiences and Dialogue Among Graduate Students

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Berson, M. J., Carano, K., Carlson, L. A., Mixon, N. K., Rodriguez, P., Sheffield, C. C., et al. (2006). The use of videoconferencing as a medium for collaboration of experiences and dialogue among graduate students: A case study from two southeastern universities. Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2006, 262-267.  Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/

My Codes: VCProjects

Main Point: The authors are part of a collaboration between the teacher education programs at two universities connecting via Internet2. The article describes the semester long team-teaching course, advantages and disadvantages of the team-teaching videoconference format, and discusses some of the content covered during the joint sessions. The class used blogging as an asynchronous method to connect the classes and allow for additional reflective thinking.

Theoretical Framework/References:
The article references Vygotsky to show the importance of “cultural exchange, social interaction, and peer collaboration” for the learning process.

Methods, Sample, Variables/Case:
This article is a conference paper so it doesn’t have a clear description of method. The study is called a case study (p. 2), but methods of data collection and analysis are not described.

It seems mostly a discussion format was used for the videoconferences, and the two professors team-facilitated the discussions.

The participants learned from each other’s different perspectives. One class was comprised of mainly graduate students who were already teaching; while the other class had mainly graduate students who had not yet taught or were not teaching at the same time as taking the class. These different perspectives added to the quality of the discussion and learning from both sides.

The students were able to gain the advantage of having two professors without putting a strain on either university’s resources.

The double class size due to the videoconference afforded a wider perspective and more interesting discussions.

There were some challenges including some audio problems, one night one site had a blue screen the whole time (even universities have firewall problems!) A few times one university would “take over” the conversation and they had to adjust procedures to make sure the conversation was well rounded from both sides. Some mic issues included hearing side conversations and fidgeting noises, so muting the microphone was used to resolve that.

The authors are university education professors and they were presenting to an educational technology conference of K-20 educators.


We can’t say that higher education isn’t trying to expose teacher education students to technology, that’s for sure. You may have your doubts about the university close to you, but there are definitely professors trying to expose pre-service teachers to current educational technologies. Yeah for them!!

I wonder if they experimented with any specific pedagogical techniques to make the instruction and discussion varied and interesting between the sites. I’m thinking of strategies by Carol Fleck and Kim Perry who presented at the Keystone Conference in 2004.

This is a great example of collaboration at the university level, and a model for team-teaching as a specific type of collaborative videoconferences.

VC Promotes Better Speaking Skills

Well, I’m done with MysteryQuest USA for the year, and the last ASK programs are finished as well. One thing that I’ve noticed is that videoconferencing really does promote/encourage/require/give practice for speaking skills.

When students share a clue in MysteryQuest, and then have to repeat them again and again because the other students couldn’t hear them, they learn to speak up and slow down! And they gain more confidence and poise because of their practice being on camera.

As Cifuentes and Murphy (2000) found in their study of a long term collaboration between Texan and Mexican students: “The students became more confident in their speaking, poise, and behavior on camera.”

I think also of Rusty, of Weather with Rusty fame. If the students ask their question too fast or they mumble, he makes them do it again! He mentors students so they catch some of his “on camera” professionalism.

What do you think? How did you see students learn and grow in their speaking skills this past year?

Lit Review: A Content Analysis of Videoconference Integration Plans

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Newman, D. L., Du, Y., Bose, M., & Bidjerano, T. (2006). A Content Analysis of Videoconference Integration Plans. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference, Orlando, FL.

Authors: Newman, Dianna L.; Du, Ying; Bose, Mohua; Bidjerano, Temi
Title of paper: A Content Analysis of Videoconference Integration Plans
Publication year: 2006
Database source: EdITLib
Name of journal: N/A
My Codes: VCContentProviders

Main Point: This study analyzed 46 lesson plans by teachers developed around content providers’ programs. These were part of the ProjectView grant that ended in 2005. The integration lesson plans are online here.

Theoretical Framework/References:
Several references are used to make the case that museusm already have educational content for schools, videoconferencing provides access to those resources, students participating in a videoconference engage in higher order thinking skills, and videoconferences enrich curriculum with an “active learning environment” and by “facilitating inquiry-based learning”. (p. 2). Two noteworthy references I hadn’t found already were Newman et. al 2004 and Silverman & Silverman 1999.

Methods, Sample, Variables/Case:
Content analysis was conducted on 46 lesson plans from New York State. The lesson plans were created by 63 teachers and educational consultants from 25 school districts. The lessons featured 26 content providers. A coding sheet was used to analyze the lessons. It’s included in the paper and has checkboxes for the various types of learning experiences and resources included in the lessons.

The majority of the lesson emphasis (time) was on pre-conference preparation.

The most popular methods of instruction were the structured discussion/socratic method (65%). Next were lecture/direct instruction (46%), teacher demonstration (44%), and constructivism (43%). p. 4

Traditional modes of learning were used more leading up to the conference, and the student-centered constructive learning was used more after the videoconference.

The lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy were used more in the pre-conference activities, and the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy were used more in the post-conference activities.

Rubrics, projects, and worksheets were the most popular assessment techniques used by the teachers.

Author/Audience: The authors are connected with the NYIT EEZ, which is a strong content provider support program in New York. The audience was the conference attendees, so people interested in educational technology and teacher education.


Quotes: “The videoconference session may be considered as a catalyst for promoting higher levels of thinking during post videoconference sessions.” p. 5.

The videoconferences were used to “extend” and “enrich” the study. p. 5 But before you protest about those words, check this: students would be “exposed to richer alternative sources of information, real artifacts and animals, meet external experts, and get their questions answered.” And videoconferencing leads to “a more dynamic and interactive form of learning” p. 5.

This article emphasizes the importance of preparation for videoconferences, as well as essential component of wrap-around lessons to accompany videoconferences. Using a videoconference as a stand-alone “fun” activity is not appropriate! I really like the Project VIEW focus on teachers creating lessons to support their experiences with content providers. 

Note to self: This is a great article for the week on preparing students in my online class, Planning Interactive Curriculum Connections.

Lit Review: Is it Live or is it Memorex? Students' Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication with Scientists

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Kubasko, D., Jones, M. G., Tretter, T., & Andre, T. (2007). Is it Live or is it Memorex? Students’ Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication with Scientists. International Journal of Science Education, 30(4), 495 – 514.

Authors: Kubasko, Dennis; Jones, M. Gail; Tretter, Thomas; Andre, Thomas
Title of article:
Is it Live or is it Memorex? Students’ Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication with Scientists
Publication year: 2007
Database source: InformaWorld
Name of journal: International Journal of Science Education
My Codes:

Main Point: The study compared students’ interaction with scientists via email and via real-time conferencing. The interactions were accompanied by real-time access to live data to remotely control an atomic force microscope (for the realtime group) and recorded experiments with the microscope (for the via email group). Both groups gained in their knowledge of viruses. Students in the asynchronous group asked more inquiry and interpretation questions than the synchronous group. All of the students were one-on-one with the scientist and NetMeeting was the synchronous method.

Theoretical Framework/References: Theoretical frameworks referenced include inquiry-based learning and hands-on science learning; as well as Vygotsky’s social constructivism. Several references are used to compare synchronous and asynchronous online learning.

Methods: The students participated in the instruction – learning about nanotechnology, then working through stations to conduct experiments and interview the scientists (twice), and finally writing a newspaper article about what they learned.

Data was collected from the students interactions. The live interactions were video taped and transcribed. The asynchronous email communications were captured for analysis. The students’ interactions with the experiment (live or replayed) were also captured for analysis.

Knowledge assessments were used before and after the activity and the newspaper articles were analyzed for content.

Sample: Eighty five biology students from four high school science classes in one school. The classes were randomly assigned to synchronous and asynchronous groups.


  • Both groups asked the same number of questions.
  • The content of the asynchronous questions were most frequently about inquiry/interpretation.
  • The majority of the synchronous questions were informal and about the scientist, personally.
  • In both groups there was a significant shift from two-dimensional to three-dimensional understandings of the viruses.
  • Both groups understood the actual shape of the viruses better.
  • The asynchronous students wrote much longer articles for the newspaper than the synchronous group.
  • The asynchronous group made significantly more statements about what they learned or knew in their articles.

The researchers’ found these results encouraging, since providing this access to students is easier and cheaper using the replayed experiments and email communication vs. live experiments and live interaction with the scientists.

The researchers called the synchronous group students’ fascination with the live interaction the “actor phenomenon”. The scientist in some cases was more interesting to the students than the experiment. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on your learning goals!

The researchers believe “future research needed to document how students can benefit most from communicating with scientists. What aspects of communication with scientists impact knowledge of science versus other variables such as attitudes, knowledge of science processes, knowledge of science careers, or images of scientists?” p. 17-18. Cross reference with McCombs’ evaluation and Shaklee’s study.

It’s really interesting how the email was more formal and thought out. There’s certainly something to be said for thinking about the questions ahead of time. See McCombs’ study.  In this study, it doesn’t appear that the live interaction students had a chance to think carefully about their questions. I wonder how this would compare, say, to the live interaction around a taped program like COSI Columbus’ In Depth Autopsy program. This article was especially interesting since my rant about asynchronous vendors knocking synchronous technologies. Asynchronous can be more thoughtful, yet synchronous has an energy and excitement to it. Which is better? What about the visuals? In this study, the visuals were the same – both groups could see the experiments. Certainly something to keep thinking about!