Virtual Communication


Introduction Video

vir-tu-al [vur-choo-uhexternal image thinsp.pngl]: adjective; temporarily simulated or extended by computer software
com-mu-ni-ca-tion [kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuhexternal image thinsp.pngn]: noun; the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs


external image skypecast.jpgVirtual communication is breaking down barriers that have separated people for centuries. A new wave of technology is exploding into society. What other device could permit a student in a rural community of south Georgia in the United States of America to connect with a student in metropolitan Bangladesh?


Background



The origin of virtual communications arose in the form of instant messenger services, such as AOL Instant Messenger, and file-sharing services, such as Napster. VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services are now available for free download to make phone calls over the internet. These peer-to-peer networks allow users to communicate, share, and collaborate easily.

The most commonly used forms of virtual communication are:

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  • Video-conferencing (teleconferencing): "An innovative, new technology that creates unique, in-person experiences between people, places, and events in their work and personal lives—over the network." [1] Cisco is one of the many video-conferencing companies available to the masses.

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  • File-sharing: File-sharing is a program that allows users to swap and share files. While many file-sharing networks have suffered legal problems from copyright infringements (such as the aforementioned Napster), some have been declared legal by court rulings.


  • Desktop sharing and control: Desktop sharing allows someone to openly access your desktop from a separate computer.vyew.gif Windows XP has incorporated an "invite to my computer" tool into Windows XP model computers. Desktop control is used by support technicians to locate a computer problem and inform the user how to fix it. Also, the technician can manually fix it from the shared desktop. This permits faster, more convenient assistance without confusion and long explanations of complicated problems.


  • Voice over Internet Protocol: Downloadable VoIP products available online, such as Skype, enableexternal image skype-big.1195ff31-183a-4bc3-a5ae-f835dd06a1a1.jpg anyone with a computer and an internet connection to talk on the phone, instant message, video chat, hold a conference, or even call regular phones and cell phones for free. Pew Internet states that "27% of Internet users in the United States – or 17% of all Americans – have heard of the service." [2]


  • Hybrids: Hybrids are programs that incorporate all forms of virtual communications, such as Elluminate. Elluminate is used forexternal image elluminate.jpg "real-time learning and meeting over the internet." [3] It enables web-sharing, desktop sharing, collaboration, chat, video, and many other innovative features that can be utilized.



Current News



VoIP Blog


    Skype Journal


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      Hospitalized children use VoIP to talk to Santa!
      Now in its 3rd year, the "Videophone Visits with Santa" program enables children who are confined to the hospital during the holidays to see and chat with Santa over the Packet8 VideoPhone service at his "North Pole" workshop at 8x8's Santa Clara, California headquarters. The visits take place from either the child's hospital room or a centralized patient lounge area and are followed by the special delivery of requested toys and gifts.



      This podcast discusses the benefits and drawbacks of VoIP as a business component.



      Impact on Education




      Cannelle explores the possibilities of virtual communication in education.

      1) Voice over Internet protocol

      ho-img-free_and_cheap.pngVoIP can make learning easier and more exciting by allowing students and teachers as well as students and students to communicate over the computer by voice. VoIP has everything: call, chat, conferencing, and a webcam. Students from different countries can talk to each other, just as Casey and I did for this project. Students can also ask their teachers for help outside of school.

      ho-img_skype.pngSkypecasting enables an entire class to converse instantaneously. Teachers can choose a topic and record the conversation. Others can listen in, or it can be private. Skypecasts allow open discussion of a subject to ensure that all students comprehend it.

      When schools are closed due to political situations (as they are sometimes in Dhaka, Bangladesh), online tutoring companies, such as Tutor.com, allow students and online tutors to communicate. It is effective because it is faster for people to communicate and respond to one another. It is easier for students that seek help through tutors or teachers, and it is fun!

      One of the best VoIP programs is Skype, which could be considered a hybrid of all forms of virtual communication. It has helped teachers with common interest to share work, ideas, and new teaching methods. Also, students can talk to other students as well as teachers and tutors.

      2) Desktop Sharing

      Desktop sharing allows teachers and students to share their desktops, aiding in understanding of the topic. The teacher can show thesharingS.jpg student firsthand how to find something or perform a task. A few applications are available right now that enable you to share your desktop with another user via Skype.

      Unyte from WebDialogs is a great example of this type of application. Unyte enables you to share your desktop and applications with Skype users and non-Skype users. Unyte allows you to share documents and projects with anyone at any time from your desktop. Students are able to send each other files and documents if one of them misses school. Even teachers can share their class activities and worksheets with other teachers around the world.


      3) Instant Messaging

      external image aolinstantmessenger0ft.pngInstant messaging can be used as an alternative method of communication if students and teachers do not have the right components for voice or video chatting. The teacher can communicate instantly with multiple students. Students can communicate with their teacher(s) when they are not in school when help is needed.

      Online tutors might even want to use instant messaging to chat with their students, such as they do on Tutor.com. IM is faster than emails and more effective. Not to mention, it's also free!

      The drawbacks include students misusing it and causing distractions when it is allowed in school. IM must be used responsibly.

      4) Video Conferencing

      a_PolycomV300102.jpgTeachers and students can have a discussion simultaneously with the help of conferencing. Video conferencing creates an environment similar to a classroom where the teacher lectures and the students listen. Students who cannot attend a local school or students in economically disadvantaged areas can also have the opportunity to take part of these virtual classes via video conferencing, such as homeschooled children in isolated areas of Australia.

      Video conferencing is an excellent way to bring students with social and cultural differences together to learn about their backgrounds.

      Smaller schools can also use video conferencing to offer courses they could not previously offer.



      Impact on Industry




      Casey summarizes the impact of virtual communication on industry.

      1) Instant Communication

      Instant Results

      Many people are using Instant Messaging(IM) services in their businesses because it provides an easy, efficient way to connect with others in the workplace. When IM is not used in a productive manner, it can cause distractions and waste time. Company managers must also ensure that employees are collaborating with each other--not conspiring against the company via IM. The same ethics that apply in standard communications also apply in virtual communications.

      Francis deSouza states in a CNN interview that he "believes companiesIM3.JPG need to formally incorporate it [IM] as part of their communications infrastructure."

      "Instant messaging has obviously evolved from its roots as a facilitator of teenager chats to a vital workplace collaboration tool. A growing number of businesses now depend on IM to communicate and collaborate internally, as well as with customers and partners. And industry insiders say IM's business evolution is far from over." [4]

      Companies, such as Akonix , have created products to employ and regulate IM in the workplace. When instituting regulatory programs such as these, businesses have a stronger grasp on overseeing the use of virtual communication tools within the company to ensure safety, security, and productivity in the office. The Skype Manager and L7 Enterprise are examples of virtual regulatory products.

      "Pew Internet studies & American Life surveys reveal that more than four in ten online Americans instant message (IM). That reflects about 53 million American adults who use instant messaging programs. About 11 million of them IM at work and they are becoming fond of its capacity to encourage productivity and interoffice cooperation."


      2) Teleconferencing

      Global Connection

      Imagine sitting at a table with two coworkers in a New York conference room. You initiate a program, and three other people working for the same company, currently in Tokyo, appear on a screen. A discussion begins, and a conference is started. How is this possible? Behold, the power of virtual communication.external image zu1.jpg


      Teleconferencing is revolutionizing the business world, enabling conferences from across the globe to take place. Products such as Cisco's TelePresence are becoming ubiquitous in national and international companies. One barrier that does stand in the way of any

      form of virtual communication (as Cannelle and I have discovered) is the time zone. Times of convenience have to be predetermined, and a conference cannot be scheduled on a whim.


      Many are opposed to removing the social aspect of conferences. They believe face-to-face association is essential.

      "The flat-panel screens display the people at the other site, which could be anywhere in the world. It creates an effect of everyone sitting around a single conference table..." [5]


      Worth the cost? Thomas Friedman declares in The World is Flat, "$250,000 each...That is nothing compared to the airline tickets and wear and tear on executives having to travel regularly to London or Tokyo for face-to-face meetings." [6]


      3) Voice over Internet Protocol

      Internet Telephony

      external image photo_careers.jpg Similar to instant messaging, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is enabling a faster, more facilitated connectivity between coworkers. VoIP is also going to create (predicted by Thomas Friedman) new companies that offer "SoIP (services over Internet protocol): who can offer you the best videoconferencing...talk to someone while easily inviting a third of fourth person...talk and swap document files...send text messages at the same time...leave someone a voice message..." [7] Companies will not only thrive on VoIP, but other businesses will also be born as a result.

      An example of a VoIP benefit in the workplace discussed in The World is Flat is "employees and freelancers confer more often, allowing them to work faster and more efficiently." [8]external image voip_enum.jpg

      As previously mentioned, Skype is one of the easiest, most efficient VoIP products available. A companywide installation of Skype would take only minutes and could reap tremendous benefits.

      VoIP services will allow someone in a small town or a small country to run an international business based on cutting edge communication tools.


      4) Collaboration

      Share, Share, Share!

      external image Concept_2.jpeg Thomas Friedman states in The World is Flat "file-sharing technology is still around and is getting more sophisticated every day, greatly enhancing collaboration." [9]

      Companies are discovering the facilitation of a collaborative effort in using sharing software--desktop sharing and file sharing (also called application sharing). Websites such as Vyew and Webhuddle are offering services that allow users to share desktops from any computer with internet access.

      The use of sharing tools can have a significant effect on teamwork projects. With new programs available, you can work on your computer in the workplace and talk with a coworker while sending him/her your drafted file and demonstrating what you are external image netviewer_o2m.jpgexplaining. As in Instant Messaging, file-sharing must be monitored to prevent internal illegal activity and wasted time. Once again, ethical principles apply in collaboration as they do in other environments.

      Numerous application sharing programs are available, but it is important to research . Make sure the one chosen is reliable, safe, and competent for your company. Compare services based on size, popularity, and the opinions of users.

      Collaboration in business will get things done--faster, easier, and more efficiently.





      Resources

      Extra Multimedia


      New communications. New connections. New possibilities.

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