Information For

Collaborative Systems

Introduction to Real-Time Communications Tools

Real-time communications tools have existed for years. Speaking with someone face-to-face is a mode of real-time communications so venerable that it has come to charaterize much of what it means to be human. The first electronic communications, the telegraph, was real-time for the operator, but not for the customer; and the telephone was revolutionary for providing real-time communications at a distance for the first time.

picture of old phoneToday's modern online environment provides many tools for non-real-time or asynchronous communications. But in some cases we need to do things in real time.

Question: What's the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication?
  • Synchronous is real time, and asynchronous is time delayed.
  • Synchronous communication takes place when people are connected at the same time (real time communication) whereas asynchronous communication does not require people to be online at the same time.

Some examples of both modes of communications:

  • Synchronous: phone calls, Skype, text chat, face-to-face meetings;
  • Asynchronous: mailing a letter, sending e-mails, posting to Facebook, blogs, forums, podcasts.

Asynchronous communication has the advantage of taking place anytime/anyplace, but may lack in social aspects, personality, and spontaneity. Synchronous communications often requires special equipment and can thus place time and location restraints on interactions.

Mission

To provide modern facilities and support for:

  • Synchronous distance learning via web conferencing-integrated classroom systems;
  • Active Learning Classroom systems;
  • Synchronous online meetings and discussions;
  • Recording of synchronous communcations for later on-demand web delivery;
  • Business communications via web conferencing.

Capabilities

Some business uses for these systems and facilities

  • Meetings with committees and teams at a distance - saves the time and cost of travel to remote locations;
  • Interviewing prospective employees outside the local area - opens  up recruitment worldwide at reduced cost;
  • Use for professional development across a wider area, making to both more convenient and more affordable.

Some academic uses for these systems and facilities

  • Online office hours;
  • Bringing remote subject-matter experts into the CSUSM classroom;
  • Letting our students interact with people and places around the world;
  • Connecting the campus to education partners in K-12 and other institutions;
  • Allowing the teaching of courses across campuses that lack critical mass on a single campus;
  • Reaching overflow audiences for events larger than any rooms on campus;
  • Archiving lectures, demonstrations, and training for on-demand delivery.

Some of the benefits

  • Opens the world to students – virtual trips expose students to peoples and places that might otherwise be inaccessible;
  • Introduces students to the similarities and differences among students both locally and worldwide;

Class interacting with Iraq via videoconference
A class interacts with Marines in Falujah, Iraq in 2006.

  • Addresses the needs of students with various learning styles;
  • Develops communication and presentation skills of students – skills which are valuable in the workplace;
  • Forces students to take an active role in the educational process; this medium does not allow for passive learning;
  • Videoconferencing is a powerful motivational tool – students work harder and produce quality work using this medium;
  • Adds authenticity to educational investigations and connects students with professionals in a variety of fields;
  • Has great potential for virtual career investigation/exploration.