Using live video relay to reach 700 first-year students from the English Department

In the latter part of 2010 the English department was faced with what seemed to be an extremely difficult predicament due to a lack of human resources. The department experienced a shortage of lecturers and a surplus of students who had enrolled for this course. This predicament initiated a meeting with various stakeholders from the English department; Prof Tony Parr and Dr Fiona Moolla; the eLearning department; and Information Communication Services (ICS) to explore the various possibilities.

Based on the meeting it was agreed that the live video relay option would best suit the department’s needs. The motto ‘let the doors of learning be opened’ was the motivation to see this innovative pilot succeed. The video relay entailed that the live lecture be streamed from lecture venue DL1 (where the lecturer was present); to the second venue DL3. This relay enabled the 700 students within both lecture venues to view the presented lecture on large plasma screens. Hence, the lecturer is able to give a live presentation within two geographical spaces (DL1 & DL3).

Phase 1 included the conceptualisation or sense-making of the needs of the English department and lecturers. Various suggestions and options were taken into consideration after a needs analysis was conducted. This included the available ICT and human resources; current infrastructures of the venues; and the time-frame in which this pilot project had to be successfully delivered.

Cognitivists believe that the addition of multimedia can help improve and augment the learning process of students as they see the concept in action (Michelich, 2002). Streaming media such as video and audio can help learners understand complex concepts and procedures that are difficult to explain with simply text and graphics (Klass, 2003)

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