April 30, 2001
IT tools help expand Emory classroom walls
Scott Sawyer is an educational analyst for ITD Teaching and Research Services team. Donna Price is ITD communications coordinator
A lone professor sits late at night in an assembly hall in Budapest, Hungary. On a large-screen video monitor, she sees students and faculty in a library conference room on Emorys campus. For the next hour, they share a dynamic, interactive dialogue on the political and social ramifications of the recent Yugoslav election.
This seminar, sponsored by Emorys Russian and East European Studies
and Halle Institute, is just one example of the growing number of two-way
video and audio broadcasts that are now crisscrossing the Atlantic, extending
the boundaries of college classrooms around the world.
During 200001, Internet and traditional phone-based videoconferencing
delivered real-time communication from Emory classrooms and research laboratories
to students, colleagues and researchers across the United States and internationally
to China, England, Germany, Japan, Russia and South Africa. Throughout
the University, teleconferencing opened new arenas for collaboration and
the development of global community.
Jeffrey Lesser, professor of history and director of Latin American and
Caribbean studies, reported positively on a videoconference session with
students in a Stanford University seminar. Students from Emory language
classes refined their conversational skills in videoconferenced exchanges
with students in China, Russia and Japan. Scheduled during the evening
hours to accommodate time zone differences, these hour-long cultural,
political and religious discussions opened windows into the lives of foreign
Outside the classroom, videoconferences were used to schedule planning
meetings and interviews with colleagues and students, to conduct long-distance
grant planning meetings, and to participate in national healthcare and
professional associations while eliminating the need to travel. Teleconferences
save time and cut travel expenses, but more importantly, they add cultural
and intellectual scope to classrooms by offering expert lecturers and
opportunities for international exchange not otherwise possible.
Collaborative research is also experiencing a renaissance as newer, computer-based
technology lessens space and time restrictions. Once upon a time, the
only way collaborators could work together was to arrange to meet in the
same physical location, call each other on the telephone, or fax or mail
pictures or graphs to each other.
It was a very inefficient way of doing things, said Vaidy
Sunderam, Dobbs Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. Thats
where the motivation for CCF [Collaborative Computing Frameworks]
came from: To try and create something where people can get together in
a sort of virtual community, online in real time, and work as if they
are in the same room or lab.
Internet2 (I2), the Internet-based conferencing technology, is rapidly
expanding the value and availability of academic conferencing resources.
As of December, 181 universities were partnering with corporations and
government to develop and advance I2.
Not only are the research sciences benefiting from the additional bandwidth
on I2, but the humanities and arts as well. This past October, musical
performers in four states collaborated in real time to produce a live
CD at the Rialto Theater. Members of a string quartet, assembled virtually,
performed and recorded even though separated by hundreds of miles.
As demands increase for faster and more reliable computer-based communication
systems, the Information Technology Division (ITD) is exploring additional
ways to use I2 connections between Emory and other research institutions.
Based on the success of the virtual performance at the Rialto, Emory College
is currently working with a networking specialist to ensure that the new
Schwartz Center for Performing Arts will have world-class technological
capabilities. Already, there are dreams of performances that sound not
only across one concert hallbut across many, through the Internet.
For more information or to view a videoconferencing demonstration, contact
ITDs Scott Sawyer at 404-727-0156 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit www.emory.edu/ITD/TR/Conferencing/index.html.