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School uses new technology to lecture across the globe

On Jan. 22, the UNC School of Social Work presented remotely to India for the first time, with a lecture to students and faculty at BPHE’s Centre for Studies in Rural Development, Institute of Social Work and Research, affiliated with the University of Pune. The live two-hour lecture began at 8 a.m. in Chapel Hill and 6:30 p.m. in Ahmednagar.

Berg-Beach Distinguished Professor Marie Weil, Ph.D., spoke on “Community Based Social Planning.” Mikki Sager and Sarah Guidi, MSW ’13, of environmental nonprofit The Conservation Fund, also presented. The Fund supports community development of underserved rural areas across the United States.

The presentation was facilitated by Suresh Pathare, Ph.D., currently a visiting scholar at our School, who is a professor and the director of the Centre; and UNC School of Social Work faculty member Rebecca Brigham, who organized and planned the lecture.

In 2013, room 101 at the UNC School of Social Work was converted from a traditional classroom into one capable of web conferencing. It is outfitted with a Polycom system that uses “telepresence” technology, enabling presenters and presentees to make eye contact on a high resolution screen.

The School has many potential uses for this technology, including:

  • Online delivery of clinical lectures and other continuing education and professional development programs
  • Interviewing international or out-of-state applicants, rather than the expense of flying them in
  • Offering courses remotely
  • Enabling students in our Winston-Salem MSW Program to actively participate in a class in Chapel Hill, and vice versa (our Winston-Salem classroom is equipped with the same system, for this purpose)
  • Inviting guest lecturers from other parts of the country and the world to speak to a UNC class
  • Creating online trainings and webinars
  • Recording sessions for later viewing or posting

The development of this high tech system was supported by an anonymous donation from a supporter of the School of Social Work.

“It was very exciting to see the interaction between the Indian students and faculty and our faculty,” said Brigham. “In the future, we plan to create many more opportunities using technology and social media to promote international education and collaboration. This is just the beginning!”

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