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Capabilities of IP-based platforms

Conferencing systems: Live, real-time audio & video conferencing (offered by Polycom, Tandberg, Vemics) offer an enriched classroom experience, plus the power of collaborative tools. High bandwidth/processing requirements and other issues related to security means this technology is not for the casual user. Some of the systems are robust enough to move into the mainstream, but considerable installation and technical support is required. There is a very significant cost savings over ISDN-based systems, as well as considerable improvement in the quality of the video compared to ISDN-technology.
      Conferencing systems offer potential for using a variety of learning models, but they are largely intended for synchronous learning. An e-learning strategy with access to this capability might choose to offer a significant amount of instruction by means of other IP-based technologies, then periodically use multipoint video-conferencing to, say, review a case or project, asking the team to defend it in the face of questions from other trainees or the instructor.
     With those capabilities, developers have the ability to create more effective learning experiences by creating communities of online learners who can share experiences, questions, tentative solutions and generally "noodle" with a task until they've solved it. They can question the instructor, instead of just listen to him/her. Technology can offer alternative and complementary ways of approaching a topic: read, listen, observe, discuss, reflect, construct.


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