Web Conferencing as a Pedagogical Tool: Results from a Brazilian Experience

Web Conferencing as a Pedagogical Tool: Results from a Brazilian Experience

Francisco Vieira Garonce (Universidade de Brasília, Brazil) and Gilberto Lacerda dos Santos (Universidade de Brasília, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1933-3.ch017

Abstract

Web conferencing is videoconferencing using Internet connections. When it is applied in educational environments, it enables a new paradigm for teaching through a face-connected classroom. This chapter presents results from a Brazilian study at the University of Brasilia (UnB), where Web conferencing is being used as the primary teaching tool in an academic master´s degree course. The research focus is the transposition of the teachers’ roles from traditional to a face-connected virtual classroom. Special attention is given to Web conferencing as an implementer for teaching and learning in collaborative communities.
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Technologies And Education

Imagine studying with classmates in Moscow, Mexico City, New York, Hong Kong, Vancouver and Sydney, urban centers and rural and remote areas. Like you, they never have to leave. Everyone learns together, not in one place in the ordinary sense, but in a shared space, a cyberspace, through systems that connect to a network of people around the globe. In network learning, the classroom is anywhere we can find a computer, a modem and a telephone line, a satellite or radio link. When a student connects to network, computer screen becomes a window to a learning world (Harasim, et al., 2005, p. 132).

Some decades ago, this would have sounded like science fiction, but today it is reality.

In every era of human history, technological advances have been responsible for changes in the processes in all human activity fields and have resulted in many changes in cultural behaviors. The fast development of electronics and digital technology during the last century has led to progress in almost all areas. Information resulting from these advances is the foundation of modern technology and basis for the “Third Industrial Revolution” (Toffler, 1980, p. 20) we are experiencing today.

In the last four decades, the computer has revolutionized all branches of society, from trade, industry, and recreation to education. Knowledge in all fields has undergone deep changes; thus, school has been faced with the need to adjust to new demands by making use of new technology, such as Web conferencing.

Hence, schools that have access to new technology have changed their modus operandi to adjust to multiple changes in the technological world, especially in the digital arena, adopting ever more intensely the computer as a teaching medium.

This adoption of new technologies, however, must occur to bring benefits to effective teaching and learning process and not just a matter of keeping up with buzzwords like, “if everyone is doing, then we will too.” It is fundamental to encourage critical change in teachers’ attitudes about technologies to avoid repeating the technological wonder mistakes of the past when technology was introduced in the classroom without a pedagogical preparation.

Being critical, however, does not mean avoiding the use of technological possibilities that exist. After all, the fast development of computer networks combined with telecommunications advances has allowed an increase in information exchange at all levels. The attention focus, however, must be in the teaching and learning process centered on the learner. Technology’s role must be supportive in this educational process. “We must spend more to exercise the brain than the muscles of educational technology, subjecting the technological choices to the constant scrutiny of educational objectives” (Harasim, 2005, p. 197).

Telecommunications tools have brought an innovative and useful possibility, establishing a benchmark from which education now has the possibility of virtual presence of the educator and the learner in a new and fertile environment. The computer, using many tools available on Internet, has created a large number of educational possibilities among which Web conferencing stands out.

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