Integration of Video Conference Systems in Educational Platforms

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An educational web platform has been already used at Singidunum University for full five years. These platforms contain all the materials necessary for successful mastering the matter of certain subject. The platforms are designed for helping people who work and do not have enough time to attend regular classes. A question was asked whether it was possible to integrate a video in the platform as well. By using modules on these platforms, we managed to integrate the video recordings which can be followed on the platform by the students at any moment.

Many universities based only on DLS studying use almost all the options offered by educational web platforms. There is a large number of platforms for distance learning among which are Atlas, Module, Blackboard and other.

Polycom system at Singidunum University

Polycom system

The Polycom HDX 8000 systems have been used for more than two years at Singidunum University for the needs of additional improvement of teaching in the centres in Nis and Subotica, and installation of another system at Synergy University – Bijeljina is planned for near future. During two years of operation, the system has proved itself to be a reliable and good choice made at shopping and integration of video-conference system. The solutions by the company Cisco and the company Polycom (not much known in our region) were being considered, and the decision was supposed to be made on which one of them had what the University needed. The professional solutions of this type were very expensive at the time, and this also represented an additional problem, as it was not easy to earmark the amounts exceeding several dozens of thousands of euro per location. However, such amounts of money are easily and rationally justified if one knows that the daily travels of professors would be reduced and made less difficult with buying these systems. The benefit is, actually even larger, as the students have got another form of consulting instruction which makes their studies easier.

The time spent in installing and setting the equipment brought vast experience to everybody who worked on realisation of this project.

The integration of video servers constantly recording the lectures from three different locations was performed based on the experience in working with this system. Thanks to these solutions, the students prevented from attending the classes have a possibility to view them from their homes via Internet at the time convenient for them and to compensate the missed classes by doing so.

Guided by the experience of the USA colleagues from their DLS universities, we have managed to avoid all the major problems in work and acceptance of this system in Serbia. The level of acceptance of the system by the students in various centres differs, as well as it does so from generation to generation. The most common problems occurring were related to the operation of Internet distributors. Various Internet providers cannot guarantee you Internet connection 24 hours, 365 days in the year. A big advantage of Singidunum University is that the Internet is provided by three largest distributors in the country, so that, even when it comes to the interruption of this type, the system is easily transferred to another public address and continues with operation. It was not easy to persuade the students that this manner of teaching will have the same effect as live classes when the professor is present at the amphitheatre. Currently, around 500 students in Nis and Subotica use the advantages of lectures and practices via video-conferencing on daily basis. The students are now far more interested in such lectures, as they are interactive, so the distance of some 240 km is easily forgotten. After a short accustoming of students and professors to such manner of functioning and work, the video-conference system came successfully to broad use in all the centres and has already been successfully used for two years.

Authors:
Vanja Mihailovic
Marko Sarac
Singidunum University

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