By Elliot Davis
Considering how to make better use of today's videoconferencing technology in the classroom? You're not alone. Of the nearly 40 schools with new or renovated facilities in 2012 (as listed in our business school facilities list), more than 70 percent report that the facilities support videoconferencing technology. Videoconferencing can open the door for cross campus collaboration, virtual field trips, and guest speakers at a fraction of the cost of travel.
Examples of the variety of uses of videoconference technology abound. In 2011, the Wharton School upgraded its conference rooms by installing a 103 inch plasma display with integrated Polycom and Tandberg support (both videoconferencing providers). The Kenan-Flagler Business School also introduced a TelePresence suite last year in its Rizzo Conference Center. The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University opened its own lecture hall in early 2010 outfitted with videoconferencing technology.
The American University of Sharjah (AUS) opened two auditoriums outfitted with high definition projectors and videoconferencing functionality. According to the news release pertaining to the auditoriums at AUS, the newly installed technology has largely been successful due to its ease of use. It no longer takes a trained technician to set-up a videoconference. In fact, in 2009, Georgetown spent $82.5 million USD on a new building for their business school, equipped with videoconferencing technology stations, designed for individual student use. The usage of this technology extends beyond the formalized lecture hall setting and can be taken advantage of on a much smaller scale.
Baylor is providing its students with smaller scale videoconferencing options, similar to Georgetown, with a slight twist. Baylor uses a mobilized cart unit equipped with Cisco Telepresence C20 and laptop inputs, to allow students to effectively establish a videoconference anywhere on campus with the appropriate outlets. Also at Baylor, a boardroom environment is simulated in their Financial Markets Center using a videoconferencing suite. According to Baylor, the technology in the center accounted for nearly half of the $900,000 USD spent to create the facility. The center serves multiple purposes for students, as it offers a setting ideal for financial research (with its dedicated stock ticker board), videoconferencing, and realistic board meeting simulations.
INSEAD is using videoconferencing to help students land jobs. According to a 2010 post by Sandra Schwarzer, Director of Career Services, on INSEAD's MBA Experience blog, videoconferencing accounts for a healthy percentage of on campus interviewing. INSEAD's Career Services staff organize roughly 5,000 interviews in a given year, and approximately 800 of the first round interviews are conducted through videoconference. Schwarzer notes that students on other campuses or those on exchange at other universities can also participate, thanks to the videoconferencing technology.
Videoconferencing can be used in a variety of different ways, as evidenced by the preceding examples. Some universities are morphing large auditoriums into functional videoconferencing centers, while others are shrinking its scale to the individual, and highly mobile, level. As new technologies continue to emerge and videoconferencing becomes more intuitive and advanced, it will be interesting to track how videoconferencing is further incorporated into the evolving business school landscape.