The V factor seems a long time ago already, but the day appeared to go well, and we now have all of the presentations available on the WVN website. The event was attended by 66 delegates, distributed around four different videoconference studios around Wales, and up to 25 of those delegates watched the stream at different times during the day from the comfort of their own homes and offices.
Chris Cowburn of HEFCW kicked the day off with information regarding the funding framework and the carbon reduction tragets that are being introduced for HE institutions in Wales. He also gave some interesting and useful information regarding HEFCW’s own use of videoconferencing.
Then Coleg Llandrillo gave us information on how they have become the biggest educational users of videoconferencing in the UK (by some way) in support of distance learning and managerial meetings.
I introduced three colleagues from Aberyswyth Univesity who gave some ‘user perspectives’ of videoconferencing, and revealed what they liked and what they didn’t like about the medium. Two of the speakers were new users and so they gave an interesting perspective on the experience. Overall their comments were positive and in favour of replacing travel with videoconferencing.
After lunch each location had a local discussion which considered the following questions:
1. What opportunities do you see for more videoconferencing at your institution?
2. What are the barriers preventing more use of videoconferencing, and how can they be overcome?
3. How could sector bodies, projects and organisations support and encourage the use of videoconferencing?
4. What would make you more likely to use videoconferencing?
5. Should/does your organisation have a formal policy on videoconferencing?
6. What should/does such a formal videoconferencing policy say?
Overall it was felt that there is more opportunity to videoconference and there is a need for further awareness raising and encouragement. One suggestion made was that research bids should include a ‘communication plan’ which explained about how projects would communicate with each other – this would encompass a travel plan and also a videoconferencing plan – perhaps funding bodies should insist on this in these times of public sector hardship? The question of incentivising use of VC was also discussed – there is an incentive to spend a day out of the office travelling to a meeting and having a free lunch, while renewing old contacts – its fun! How can we build in personal incentives to using VC rather than travelling?
The degree to which a policy should encourage or enforce the use of VC as an alternative to travel was also an area where differing opinions emerged. Some felt that staff should have to prove a need to travel, while others felt that this was draconian.
The last two sessions of the day showed useful examples of VC as an enabling technology (and carbon emissions saver) within the Welsh NHS, and also a consideration of just how green videoconferencing can be.
For another perspective on the event please see Paul Richardson’s blog:
All presentations and videos of the day can be reviewed at: