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October 23, 2013

Video Conferencing Equalizes Regional Delivery

Technology Helps Deliver Paramedic Training to Victoria and Kelowna

New video conferencing capabilities linking three Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) campuses mean students and staff can now join each other in classrooms and at meetings regardless of whether they are in Victoria, New Westminster or Kelowna. 

As part of a pilot program, video conferencing equipment has been installed in dedicated classrooms at each of these three JIBC locations.

The Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) program participated in the pilot, and funding from The JIBC Foundation made the project a workable reality.

ACP Program Manager Rick Wong says that expanding the 18-month-long ACP program to Vancouver Island made sense.

“It’s a big commitment of time and money for students to come to the Lower Mainland to take the ACP program,” said Wong. “We wanted to add locations, while maintaining quality control in terms of instruction and learning outcomes. It’s easier to do that when the information students receive, regardless of where they are, is delivered by the same instructor. Currently, the video conferencing equipment is used for lectures only [not simulations] and doctors and sessional instructors use it. The process is constantly being evaluated and improved.”

Dr. Urbain Ip, an emergency room physician at Royal Columbian Hospital and Chief Medical Officer for JIBC’s Health Sciences programs, is a lecturer in the program.

With the installation of this new video conferencing equipment, students in Victoria and Kelowna get the same top notch instruction from Dr. Ip and other doctors and sessional instructors, without having to hop a ferry or drive the Coquihalla to get to New Westminster.

This video conferencing equipment is just one more way to capitalize on technology-enhanced learning, ensure consistent access to subject matter experts and extend the reach of the top quality programming available. All of these outcomes are important and strategic JIBC-wide goals.

Capitalizing on Technology-Enhanced Learning

In doing the research for the pilot project, Project Manager Simon Chau of JIBC Tech Services involved divisions across the Institute. His project team investigated what other post-secondary institutes (Emily Carr, Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Community College) had already learned from incorporating video conferencing into their courses. Then Chau reviewed the most commonly used web collaboration tools on the market, such as: WebEx, FaceTime, Adobe Connect, and SmartBoard, as well as BlueJeans, a shared service from BCNet.

The team decided on Polycom, a video conferencing company with a 20-year history. In addition to decisions about which technology vendor to choose, decisions had to be made about classroom lighting, ventilation, and security. Instructors required training. Tech support had to be negotiated. Issues around privacy, intellectual property and licensing were additional considerations.  

Currently there are four access points. That means if three classrooms are hooked up, it’s possible for one more access point to be activated. That access point could be a room full of people at another location or a single individual using a specialized app to access the lecture from home.  

Both Wong and Chau learned that the technology was just the starting point on a learning curve that continues. “It’s not as simple as just installing the technology, turning on the lights and telling instructors to use it,” said Chau. “It takes time for instructors to adapt to navigating between a classroom full of students and a second classroom of students beamed in on a screen. It requires acknowledging those in the room and those in the second location on screen, interacting with them and encouraging them to interact with each other.   

“It’s an evolution and we’re still learning,” said Wong.

Benefits of Video Conferencing

Some of the obvious benefits of video conferencing include:

  • The opportunity to reach more students with access to subject matter experts in regions where the equipment is installed.  
  • Reduced travel costs thereby saving time and money for JIBC and students outside the Lower Mainland.
  • A potential for collaboration between staff at the JIBC’s satellite campuses in conducting meetings or other business.

Tags: Paramedic Academy, School of Health Sciences

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Last updated July 8, 2014