Live Video Conferencing Connects Carbon Course

Published on January 12, 2010

Faculty, Students in Houston & Chapel Hill Share Classroom Experience Via Video

The UH Bauer section of the graduate carbon trading course previews the video conferencing tool that will be used this semester.

The three professors who pioneered the groundbreaking class on carbon trading last year will be doing something different, again.

The class, “The Practice of Carbon Trading” will again focus on the pros and cons of market-based solution to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But this year this one–of–a–kind course will be offered simultaneously in Houston and Chapel Hill, N.C.

This helps solves a problem and creates an opportunity.

Law professor Victor Flatt, who is a key part of this collaboration, left to teach at the University of North Carolina law school but wanted to stay involved with the class he started with Bauer finance professors, Praveen Kumar and Craig Pirrong. Enter a solution.

Technology bridges universities

The solution requires expanding the use of closed circuit televisions and collaborative software. This sort of link has been used to offer for a few classes in a far-away place or beam in an out–of–town expert. This is the first time students in different places will be working together as if they were in the same room for a semester.

“It is going to be an interesting experiment. It’s going to be the first regular 100 percent video conferencing course” said Praveen Kumar, Texas Bank of Commerce/Tenneco Professor and Chair, Executive Director of UH-GEMI.

Class members will be able to see each other on the video cameras mounted in the front of the room. They will be strongly encouraged to get to know each other better by engaging in cross-country collaborations. Business students in Houston will not be required to team up on projects with law students in Chapel Hill. But, Praveen Kumar said the projects, which are a key part of the course, must delve deeply into the legal and financial aspects of their topic.

To facilitate joint efforts both sides also have access to Blackboard software.  The software will be offered to encourage cross-campus efforts, with functions allowing online chat and the ability to share and create documents as a group.

“That is the truly unique piece, having two classes collaborating in full, ”said Mahduri Kumar, Instructional Design Team Program Director, who was in charge of setting it up at UH.

There is also a lecture capture function that will allow students on different school calendars to catch up on missed classes.

If it works as planned, this could open up opportunities to expand the reach of UH’s Global Energy Management Institute (GEMI). The expertise on the Institute’s faculty is much in demand, but moving teachers around the globe takes a toll.

“The biggest constraint we have now to expanding energy programs is the limit in human capital bandwidth,” Praveen Kumar said.

Facts:

What: A class will be taught in Houston and Chapel Hill, N.C. using video conferencing technology and collaborative software.
When: The weekly class begins Wednesday. 1/20/10.
Where: The first class in Houston is in Melcher Room 302. After that it will be held in 365.
Technology: Video cameras in the front and back of the room will capture the lectures in on real time closed circuit TV. The lectures will also be saved for later replays. Blackboard software will be used to facilitate collaborations.

By Stephen Rassenfoss

Posted Under: Recognition

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