Today I attended a video conference. It included most of the educators in New Zealand who teach undergraduate student midwives about screening for family violence. We were based as far afield as Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch. It was good to catch up with these teachers and find out about the latest teaching practices in this area.
But there were a couple of things that made an impression on me.
The first is what a pain video conferencing is. It took me half a morning to organize access to the compatible equipment. I had to go to another institution to use it - I could have used Otago Polytechnic's equipment, but it would have cost a significant sum to bridge into the system that was being used.
Then this morning, I had to make my way into town, find a parking space and then find the venue as well as the technician. This took an age and I was late - no one knew anything about it even though I had arranged it weeks ago. How much easier for me (being the extremely lazy person that I am) to have just hooked up into a web conferencing program like Elluminate on my home computer.
Now, after being a grumpy old person about this, I must acknowledge that midwives seem to really like video conferencing because they like to be able to 'see' who they are talking to. A lot of midwives do not have access to Internet resources that support web conferencing and do not have the skills to be able to use it. And there is an increasing number of video units being installed around New Zealand which will make video conferencing more accessible for midwives. I, for one, was very pleased that I did not have to take a full day out of my schedule to fly half way around the country for a two hour meeting. But in the long run, I wonder who will carry the cost of this.
The second thing that was impressed upon me was how much work has to be done to encourage people to think about things like open access, creative commons and collaborative work in blogs, wikis and so on.
This morning we had a discussion about the resources we use. They have been developed by The New Zealand College of Midwives and as such is copyrighted for restricted use. I have suggested that NZCOM thinks about making this material available on its web site under a creative commons license. I have also suggested that NZCOM thinks about using a wiki or blog for the collaborative work that is scheduled to be done on this family violence screening program later in the year.
It will be interesting to see if and how this eventuates.
What do you prefer - video or web conferencing?