This case-study discusses the adoption of video-conferencing in the Classics departments of 3 universities in Wales. Seminars on specialized topics were alternately organized at each university with students and academic staff from the other 2 institutions participating in discussion-based sessions.
Video-conferencing has allowed the 3 departments to improve the quality of their programme by offering a wider range of seminars from specialized lecturers in a time and cost effective way.
Student and lecturer feedback are mainly positive. Students consider the video-lectures to be complementary to their face-to-face activities, but are nevertheless receptive for a stronger e-learning component. Lecturers appreciate being part of a wider academic team and the academic discussions during the seminars, which are often attended by academics from several institutions. Students also appreciate the opportunity to observe these academic discussions, engaging in a kind of legitimate peripheral practice (Wenger). Technical issues with software and difficulties to get bookings for the conference room proved the main obstacles in this case study.
It’s a rather unremarkable case study in which a technology is used to improve the quality of the learner experience. As in other case studies the e-learning component is seen as a complement to the face-to-face activities in the programme. Opportunities for inter-university student interaction are passingly mentioned – the title says only ‘collaborative teaching’ -, but it seems that there is clearly a lot of potential here for further development of the e-learning component. I believe that these kinds of initiatives are probably the only way small universities can still provide a sufficient quality and survive in the changing HE landscape.