Prior to beginning this study intio online voice tools, I had quite some experience in realtime voice interactions, typically using the Instant Messengers like Yahoo and ICQ, or simple voice chat rooms like Paltalk and Wimba Voice Direct. Observing people like Matt Wasowski in action with HorizonLive, and Jonathan Finkelstein with Elluminate, enticed me to look much further into the phenomenon of webcasting. Webcasting involves presenting to and communicating with (teaching) a group of people online who are all logged into a virtual classroom space at the same time (ie synchronous interaction). In a typical webcasting environment all participants can communicate with text or voice, and share the same graphic or visual materials. Webcasts are the closest approximation to class room teaching found online, and hence can be used to reinforce the teacher-led paradigm where essentially the teacher does most of the teaching.
Experienced webcasters however know that this will not work. In a voice-based webcasting environment the lecturer is presenting to an unseen audience who cannot see you. Some webcasting tools (virtual classrooms) do house and encourage the use of webcam or video to complement the audio feed, but I was conscious throughout this project of wanting only to highlight tools that can be adequately used via dial-up connections (how most of the world will experience the Internet for a good many years yet), and my experience of tools like HorizonLive and Elluminate tells me that video is not necessary, and may in fact be just one more unnecessary distraction.
The unseen audience of the webcaster may be sitting at a PC with a host of possible distractions at their fingertips, and the presenter needs a specific set of skills and strategies to engage and maintain the focus of their participants.
What are these skills/strategies?
role of radio
classroom of the future