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Developing a training programme for video conferencing: Project Invite John Morgan University of Wales Aberystwyth

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Developing a training programme for video conferencing: Project Invite John Morgan University of Wales Aberystwyth Hana Katr ňá kov á , Alena Hradilov á , Libor Š tep á nek, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic

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Developing a training programme for

video conferencing: Project Invite

John Morgan

University of Wales Aberystwyth

Hana Katrňáková, Alena Hradilová, Libor Štepánek,

Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic

With Barbora Budíková (MU), Janice de Haaff & Martin Ashe-Jones (UWA)


Scope of the presentation

  • Introduce Invite Project and identify our theoretical
  • foundation of a communities of practice perspective
  • of video conferencing
  • Identify the needs of SME project partners and the
  • academic practices that inform ongoing development
  • Identify a link between communities and “social
  • telepresence”
  • Indicate user responses to early VCs as barriers to
  • telepresence and discuss how an evolving sense of
  • community can provide a sense of social
  • telepresence, despite limitations in technology


an innovative learning infrastructure

  • 2 year EU funded project (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • Seven project partners in Czech Republic,
  • UK, Spain, Italy & Slovakia: 3 universities,
  • 4 SMEs
  • Aim: to provide a training programme,
  • materials and learning infrastructure for SME
  • partners in effective practices in video
  • conferencing and to disseminate research
  • and development findings

Framework for project development

  • The project is based on video conference
  • initiatives between Masaryk University in Brno
  • and University of Wales Aberystwyth
  • Students design team-based projects and
  • hold discussions and presentations via
  • video conference
  • Ongoing development of VC methodologies
  • is derived from user responses in relation to
  • working theory of literacies development in
  • video conferencing (Morgan, 2005)

Project needs analysis (SME 1)

  • ILLE, Lozorno, Slovakia (education and training)
  • Educational visits by US business students
  • Presentations in companies
  • Preparation for meeting companies
  • Intercultural communication
  • Need guidelines for initial use and effective practices, along with equipment and layout of video conferencing “spaces”

Project needs analysis (SME 2)

  • Tart Ltd., Brno, Czech Republic (packaging and
  • packaging machines)
  • Multinational company rapidly expanding into
  • international markets
  • Effective communication with international
  • partners
  • Reducing costs and delays of travel
  • Communication with subsidiaries, company
  • management, sales representatives: mostly meetings

Project needs analysis (SME 3)

  • Seven Partners, Udine, Italy (European project
  • organisation and management)
  • Internal needs: employees and partners deal with
  • weekly agendas and solve problems
  • Employees need to chair/facilitate video meetings,
  • with effective uses of turn-taking and other
  • communication skills
  • External needs: communicating with other clients
  • to create working groups to solve problems and
  • set project agendas. Keen to develop “mentality
  • training” (a culture of engaging with new media)

Project needs analysis (SME 4)

  • Českomoravský Cement, Brno, Czech Republic
  • Leading manufacturer of cement
  • Significant experience with video conferencing
  • with good levels of equipment and technical support
  • Meetings and negotiations for import and export of
  • materials and finished products
  • To develop further training opportunities and
  • communication skills for employees

Elective transferability

  • Return to the classroom
  • To gain experience of the development of video
  • literacies we have set up an action research
  • framework for analysis of communication and
  • “elective transferability” of communication
  • practices
  • Elective transferability refers to user responses
  • to watching recordings of their own conferences
  • with a view to developing a team-based and
  • individual critical design for subsequent video
  • conferences without significant facilitator
  • intervention

Obstacles and responses

  • Elective transferability can be used as an important
  • methodological orientation of the of training materials
  • We are not able to engage partners in many
  • development activities and they expect delivery of
  • materials at the end of the two year project
  • This means that we have to identify transferable
  • methodology and activities from our own classroom
  • and academic practices
  • User responses and sample VC scenarios that are
  • beginning to motivate partners indicate that this is not
  • as problematic as originally expected

The possibility of telepresence

  • Current video conferencing research and development
  • focuses very much on the concept of telepresence
  • It is commonly seen as a set of technologies that
  • enables users to feel that there are no barriers
  • between remote user groups
  • Hi definition technologies are clearly increasing the
  • potential for powerful simulation and/or telepresence
  • Here it is argued though that telepresence can be
  • achieved quite easily with very limited technologies


  • Studies in cyberculture have long identified concepts
  • such as mental and emotional telepresence
  • Trudy Barber (2004), “Travelling on-line: encounters with cyberculture”.
  • Online Education and Training. Institute of Education,
  • University of London
      • Physical telepresence is achieved through
      • sensation and imagery
      • Emotional telepresence is achieved by
      • suspension of disbelief
      • Mental telepresence is achieved through
      • intellectual engagement
      • Social telepresence is achieved through a
      • sense of belonging to a community

From communities of practice…

  • Shared history
  • Collective identity
  • Reciprocal obligations
  • Discourse

new VC participants may not

have a distinct sense of shared history

some elements of e.g. being students can give a sense of collective identity, but specific aspects may be very different

at this level of mutual awareness new communities can bond more easily

the patterns of interaction that emerge may vary significantly from group to group

Based on Mercer (2000)


…to socially telepresent communities

    • … Shared history Collective identity 
    • Reciprocal obligations Discourse …
  • It would be easy to assume that this is a linear process, but even in physically present communities we can enter the cycle at any stage
  • It could be argued that new VC participants enter the emerging community at the awkward stage of reciprocal obligations and that a sense of belonging through the emergence of identity and/or history breaks down virtual barriers towards a feeling of social telepresence

From academic to professional

  • Elective transferability strategies bridge the gap between academic and professional life
  • Acquisition allows participants to individualise communication for specific audiences and partners towards the enabling of social telepresence
  • “You can really involve the people on the other side of the discussion”
  • “I think it is the same as speaking in front of a real audience”
  • “The most important thing I learned is not to panic”

Continuing research

  • The next stage of theoretical work in the Invite Project is to analyse and code numerous hours of video recordings
  • The samples will initially be analysed from
      • language & negotiation perspectives
      • social & cultural factors
      • operational & technical dimensions
  • The results will inform ongoing development of project and will also be used to refine the theoretical framework presented here

Working papers and conference links

  • Welsh Video Network Conference, Aberystwyth, 2005:   
  • Diverse Conference, Glasgow, 2006:   
  • Invite Project web site:   
  • Live Sociology photographic essay:   
  • Video Funet Conference, Tampere, 10th-11th May, 2007:   
  • Diverse Conference, Lillehammer, 27th-29th June, 2007:   
  • Diverse Conference, Haarlem, 2008
  • As the local organiser of the Diverse Conference, June 2009, I would like to “invite” everybody to
  • Abersytwyth in 2009:   


The work presented here could not be done without the help of:

Video conference participants

EL27720 & Foundation students, University of Wales Aberystwyth

English language students, Masaryk University, Brno

Invite Project partners in the Czech Republic, Spain & UK

Hana Katrnakova, Masaryk University, Brno

Alena Hradilová, Masaryk University, Brno

Libor Štěpánek, Masaryk University, Brno

Barbora Budiková, Masaryk University, Brno

Santiago Posteguillo, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón

Janice de Haaff, UWA

Martin Ashe-Jones, UWA

Technical support team in Aberystwyth:

Tom Fernandez, Information Services, UWA

Nigel Thomas, Information Services, UWA

Martin Pugh, Information Services, UWA

Geoff Constable, Welsh Video Network & Information Services, UWA



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  • Available from: (Accessed 7th June, 2005).
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  • Available from (Accessed 7th June, 2005).
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