Web Conferencing Classes Debut

September 4, 2007

Classrooms will be virtually coming into some business students’ homes this fall. Mary Baldwin University’s Baldwin Online and Adult Programs recently launched interactive Web-based classes, enabling students to participate in normal classroom activities from in front of their own personal computers. Mary Baldwin may be the first college in the area — and even ahead of popular online institutions such as University of Phoenix — in piloting the technology in its Charlottesville regional center.

Students can use a computer to connect face-to-face with classmates in other areasEquipped with a webcam, a high speed internet connection, and a phone, students will be able to see and converse with their Mary Baldwin professor and other students in virtual college classes.

“We are using software that enables us to see each other as well as a presentation in a split screen format,” said Robert Klonoski, assistant professor of business who plans to employ the software in his senior seminar. “I’ve used one-on-one video and voice over Internet communications to speak with and tutor students,” Klonoski said, “but we’ve taken it a step further this semester. We can have up to 20 people in a class and incorporate Power Point presentations or Word and Excel documents as a blackboard. The person speaking appears on everyone’s screen, and the live video is voice activated.”

“In the longer term, we expect that new technologies like this will enable us to offer a richer college experience to more students who cannot or do not need to physically attend the college,” said Nancy Krippel, dean of Adult and Graduate Studies at Mary Baldwin. Krippel added that web conferencing will primarily be used in business courses initially.

Mary Baldwin University’s Baldwin Online and Adult Programs (Baldwin Online and Adult Programs) was established in 1977 and operates on the main campus in Staunton, Virginia, as well as at five regional sites statewide. This year’s Baldwin Online and Adult Programs enrollment of 1,270 is the largest in the program’s history.