The WLE projects proposed by faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences were all designed to meet educational goals through direct interaction between participants in various parts of the world. In consultation with the faculty, we considered a range of technologies to support these international activities, and incorporated newer technologies as they became available over the three-year grant period. Our approach ensured that the educational goals drove the choice of technology, rather than using any particular communication as the starting point.
Face-to-face discussions, presentations, consultations and collaborations were facilitated by videoconferencing over high-speed global networks. The exact type of videoconferencing and the technical quality of the connection depended on the quality and speed of the networks available to our partner institutions. Faculty members and students helped us to ascertain the current state of technologies in different parts of the world, their costs and their accessibility.
In addition to direct, interactive videoconferencing, one WLE project made use of virtual environments in Second Life, enabling students to participate in simulated scenarios requiring real-time decision making. Others captured lectures and discussions on videos that were subsequently edited, annotated and shared. In addition, WLE activities were facilitated by webconferencing, blogs and wikis, web pages, computer desktop sharing, and software application sharing.
Our excellent colleagues at the Internet2 consortium, to which CWRU belongs, were very helpful in connecting our students and faculty members to international colleagues and resources. Thanks to Internet2, we felt as if we had friends all over the world.