Indian Journal of Science and Technology
Year: 2015, Volume: 8, Issue: 30, Pages: 1-9
Samar Ghazal*, Zarina Samsudin and Hanan Aldowah
Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Penang, Malaysia; [email protected]
The synchronous model enables teachers and students to communicate in real time, though different spaces. Synchronous distance education offers an environment closer to the traditional class environment and allows students to establish visual and voice communication with teachers through video conferencing. The objective of this study is to determine how postgraduate students’ changing perceptions of synchronous distance education classes using Skype-based video conferencing. A qualitative research approach was used for the study. The subjects consisted of students in a Master’s program in a public University in Malaysia. For the case study method, a qualitative data collection method was used and the data was obtained via observation results and semi-structured interviews. Data was analyzed using the descriptive analysis method. Findings obtained indicated that students’ perceptions of the course changed during and upon the completion of the course. It was generally seen that some of the students knew the accurate concept of synchronous distance education and video conferencing, but they did not use it in their daily lives. Some of them did not have enough information or had preconceived ideas about synchronous communication prior to the course. After attending the online sessions, the perception of students changed and they were able to realize clearly the opportunities that are provided by synchronous education via the Internet. In this study, the most important problem in synchronous distance education was determined to be disconnection and audio problems. Other significant problem related to hardware includes – i.e., sound, speed and connectivity issues. At some point students became bored because they could not see each other by video call due to the limitation of the Skype program. Besides technical problems, students expressed that the factors of time management and environment also change their perceptions on synchronous distance education. The paper suggests possible positive changes in the students’ opinions about synchronous distance education and more fruitful courses should be provided on condition that some of the factors causing the negative perceptions are minimized.
Keywords: Distance Education, Skype, Synchronous Learning, Video Conference
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