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This is a very broad category of online tools, incorporating a range of options from free one-to-one audio conferencing all the way to more sophisticated and expensive tools such as Polycom which allow multiple sites with entire classes participating using video and audio.
  1. Video and audio, or just audio connection between two computers communicating via the Internet.
  2. Transmitted to & received from any computer in any location that has Internet connection (broadband desirable for effective use). Teacher must have microphone, can have camera. Ideally end users have microphone (camera not essential) for synchronous communication.
  3. Technology requirements for video/audio conferencing:
    1. Computer with access (ideally broadband) to the Internet.
    2. Browser.
    3. Speakers to hear audio.
    4. Microphone (to contribute audio).
    5. Web camera to contribute video.
Why use video/audio conferencing?

Enables teacher or limited number of learners need to connect from different locations at the same time when only video and/or audio connection is needed. Examples: guest speaker at remote location can talk to local class; students in one class can engage in discussion with students at another location (such as a class in another country); when a student is unable to attend face-to-face class, s/he can connect to class via VOIP; students can take virtual field trips to remote locations.

Advantages video/audio conferencing
Note: Within the broad category of video/audio conferencing there are different types, each with their own advantages, so not all within the following list applies to each specific tool.

  1. Free download of easy to use software that can be used via Internet to connect student, instructor, or guest speaker to class and enable both sides to see & hear.
  2. Enables individual (usually limited to one connection) to participate in synchronous learning experiences from any location worldwide. Users can connect from home, work or other location easily accessible to them.
  3. Specifically useful for guest speaker who is far away from face-to-face class location, or student who cannot be in face-to-face class.
  4. Enables users to take virtual field trips to remote locations (either just by viewing the video or engaging in an interactive lesson.
  5. Can be used to record vodcast or podcast and uploaded to course website (for web-enhanced, hybrid, or fully online classes).
  6. As video conferencing technology improves, this can become a far cheaper alternative to ITV or systems like PolyCom.

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