Some effective video conferencing tips: Sugata Mitra
Thank you Scoonews
People use all sorts of methods for video conferencing. Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp are common methods used by many.

However, you will often hear it said that ‘It's not like the real thing’, meaning the experience is not really like a face-to-face conversation. This is mostly because of the way in which we do video conferencing. If you are talking to someone holding up a tiny phone with the other persons face like a postage stamp, well, that’s not going to feel like the real thing, will it? If you are listening to a tinny little voice on headphones, that’s not going to be like the real thing either. If the person you are talking to is looking somewhere else and not at you, that’s not like the real thing (most of the time!).

Well, here are some ways you could get the experience of video conferencing to become a little more real.

The screen: This should be big enough so that faces can appear in life size. A computer screen of about 20 inches diagonal is the minimum that will do this. A smart TV will work even better. The person whose face you are looking at should hold up a foot/metre scale next to their face. On your side, take a similar scale and put it against the one in the image. If the two matches, you’ve got life-size. If you don't have a scale, use a standard bottle or something.

In a school, you could use a projected screen if two classes are interacting. Get the image to be life-size, using the method described above. If you are projecting using a traditional projector, people’s heads will come in the way. Use a ‘very short throw’ projector. These are so close to the screen that you can’t come in the way. They are a bit expensive, though.

Audio: Use HiFi speakers. They are getting better all the time. Bose sells a tiny Bluetooth speaker that produces incredibly lifelike audio. You can almost feel the presence of the person you are speaking to. Use microphones that are tiny and invisible. Don’t use headphones, they make you look as though you are speaking from the International Space Station.

Camera: This is tricky. Most cameras are unobtrusive but they are usually on top of the screen. So the person you are talking to appears to be looking over the top of your head. This can’t be helped, but you can reduce the problem by looking at the camera instead of at the image of the face on the screen. To the other person, you will then look as though you are looking directly at them. It takes a bit of getting used to. If you are using a projected screen, you can try to fix a tiny camera in the centre of the screen. This will solve the problem.

Don’t wear clothes with checks or stripes, they produce what is called ‘jitters’ on the other screen.

Maybe you will get some of the vibes of a real conversation back into cyberspace!



Sugata Mitra via Facebook 
Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England. He is best known for his "Hole in the Wall" experiment and widely cited in works on literacy and education.

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