"Students want some traditional classroom–style features. Many want at least one synchronous
video class meeting early in the semester, along with one-on-one virtual "office hours"
with the instructor."
- from the 2016 ONLINE REPORT CARD TRACKING ONLINE EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES
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 characterize 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.
Today'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
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 communications for later on-demand web delivery;
- Business communications via web conferencing.
- Web conferencing using Zoom (up to 50 particpants);
- Large meetings using Zoom (up to 250 participants);
- Webinars (one-to-many sessions using Zoom supporting thousands of connections);
- Support for other popular point-to-point web conferencing (e.g. Skype for Business).
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
- 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
A class interacts with Marines in Falujah, Iraq in 2006. Wow, we've been doing this
for a long time!
- 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.