You know the old Sales saw: “if you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are.”
I’ve been thinking about this quote quite a bit this past year, as our school implements telepresence on campus.
Traditionally, when one envisions telepresence or teleconferencing, one tends to think of tricked-out conference rooms, with large flat screen TVs and HD cameras, and everyone sitting at a long table.
In the college classroom, that setup is a total non-starter. Except for the smallest of seminars, college classrooms don’t look that way, and faculty don’t teach that way.
Yet, still today, when you do happen to stumble across teleconferencing at many schools, the “classrooms” are really very specialized, high value conference rooms that wind up being virtually (no pun intended) unused. (Saying to myself “we had one of those”).
So – what’s the solution?
Fish Where The Fish Are.
Put your telepresence / teleconferencing dollars where teaching happens – in actual classrooms.
Your faculty is not going to invest time in learning how to work technology in a room that they never visit, is halfway across campus, and is controlled by one or more other departments. But, if telepresence is in the places where your faculty lives, inside their classrooms, you stand a fighting chance of actually doing what you want to do in the first place with the technology – enable highly engaged students to learn, because now the technology is a part of their day to day experience and ecosystem.
There are plenty of challenges to effectively implement and support telepresence at any school (not the least of which are funding, developing great relationships with teleconferencing vendors and channel partners, and developing support staff who understand the technology).
Improve your chances of teleconferencing teaching success by putting the tech in the classroom, not the board room.
Fish where the fish are.