Docstoc

Survey Methodology Good Campus

Document Sample
Survey Methodology Good Campus Powered By Docstoc
					Conferencing and Virtual Meetings
in UK Further and Higher Education
     - Results of User Surveys

Prepared as part of a Joint Information
  Services Committee (JISC) financed
  project by HEEPI’s SusteIT initiative

                 Exposure Report, 9th May 2012
  (Final publication in June 2012 – check for latest version before citing)



       Peter James and Lisa Hopkinson

 Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement Project,
                       University of Bradford
                        www.goodcampus.org




                                     1
                          Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Contents
Summary ........................................................................................................................................................................ 3

Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................. 5

1. Survey Methodology ............................................................................................................................................... 6

2. Patterns of Virtual Meetings ................................................................................................................................. 9

    2.1 Characteristics of Respondent’s Last Virtual Meeting ........................................................................... 13

    2.2 Uses of Virtual Meeting Technologies ....................................................................................................... 13

3. Impacts of Virtual Meetings ................................................................................................................................ 17

4. Travel and Carbon Avoidance ........................................................................................................................... 26

5. Quantifying the Business Benefits of Virtual Meetings.................................................................................. 30

6. The Future .............................................................................................................................................................. 34

    6.1 Scope for Greater Use of Virtual Meetings amongst Current Users ................................................ 34

    6.2 Barriers to Greater Use of Virtual Meetings ........................................................................................... 38

7. Conclusions ............................................................................................................................................................ 45



Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of all the local staff at the nine universities who helped
check and publicise the surveys within their institutions, and provided comments on this report.
Thanks to Rob Bristow at JISC for support on the project, and Geoff Constable at the Welsh Video
Network for detailed feedback and support. Thanks also to colleagues at Aberystwyth, Bangor and
Swansea Universities who helped with translation and proofing of the Welsh version of the surveys.




                                                                                       2
Summary

This report summarises the results from 1,725 respondents to surveys of internal use (or non-use) of
conferencing or other virtual meeting technologies at nine individual universities (Aberystwyth,
Bangor, Bradford, Central Lancashire, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester Metropolitan, Staffordshire, and
Swansea). They have been conducted as part of a JISC-funded project on the topic, which has also
produced a summary report and 11 briefing papers and case studies.

The sector is certainly making use of a wide variety of technologies, including those provided by Janet
UK, others that are institutionally supported (e.g. Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect) and
‘unofficial’ ones such as Skype. An overall average of 38% of respondent’s last virtual meeting did not
involve video, i.e. it was restricted to audio, messaging, document viewing etc. The ‘mix’ varies
considerably between institutions, as does their utilisation of dedicated videoconferencing suites. The
highest use of suites was at the three Welsh universities, which is almost certainly related to the
existence of additional Welsh Assembly support (via the Welsh Video Network) which is not available
to other UK institutions.

The average number of virtual meetings attended by respondents from all universities in the 4 weeks
prior to the survey was 2.0. On average, their last virtual meeting:

      Lasted 63 minutes;
      Was successful in meeting its objectives (65% said completely, and 28% partially);
      Was mainly accessed from university premises (in 40% of cases an office, and 26% a suite) with
       only 11% doing so from home;
      Was a continuing regular discussion (37%) or a specifically set up 1 to 1 call (25%), with only
       6% with only 6% of respondents taking part in a teaching/learning session involving students;
       and
      Definitely or almost certainly avoided the need for the respondent to travel in 54% of cases.

Follow on questions to the latter sub-group (i.e. those avoiding travel) found that their last call, on
average:

      Had 7.2 participants;
      Avoided 300 miles of travel , 9-25 kg of CO2eq emissions and £106 of travel and subsistence
       costs for short-medium haul journeys; and
      Freed up 8 hours of productive time, with an approximate value of £187, from avoided short-
       medium haul travel.

Respondents were very positive about the impacts of virtual meetings on their work. The main
benefits were thought to be reduced stress/time travel (average of 75%), better control of time
(average of 61%), and easier to stay in touch with colleagues (average of 49%). Disbenefits were
fewer, with the main ones being problems because of reduced face-to-face contact with colleagues
(average of 19%) and less effective meetings (average of 16%).



                                                    3
There appears to be considerable potential for greater use of virtual meeting technologies in the
sector, with:

      Most current users (81%) feeling that there are further opportunities to replace face-to-face
       meetings; and

      An average of 46% of non-users saying that they would definitely be interested in making
       greater use of virtual meetings if they were easier to access and use (with a further 37%
       answering maybe).

Respondents identified many opportunities for greater use including small group meetings (internal
and inter-university); teaching and learning; academic conferences and workshops; collaborative
research; interviews; and regional and national meetings.

For respondents who had not recently participated in a virtual meeting, the main reasons why were
technical with the main response being difficulties (perceived or actual) of setting one up (average of
22%) followed by concerns about whether it would work technically (average 11%).

Suggested actions to overcome the barriers identified include easier access and reservation of
facilities, more technology “champions”, better technical support and training, institution-wide
policies and support frameworks, and adoption and encouragement by senior staff to embed a
culture of usage. More broadly, there would seem to be a case for making virtual meetings less
closely associated with the AV/IT function. Effective technical support will always be important, of
course, but the need is to move from the current ‘provide and they should use’ approach to one that
is more user-focused and marketing-led. This would then make it easier to provide what many users
are seeking, which is help with a wide range of technologies. The surveys also demonstrate the value
of a better understanding of current virtual meeting patterns in order to identify opportunities and
barriers; to provide data to support business and environmental cases; and to highlight examples of
successful usage that could be extended, and potential champions who could encourage others.

Overall, the results show that virtual meeting technologies are providing many economic, social,
pedagogic and personal benefits for universities and their staff and that there is the potential for
more. Of course, there will always be an important place for face-to-face interaction and there are
also some downsides to virtual meetings. But they can, and often do, cut travel and associated costs
and associated carbon emissions, and free employee time for both work and personal uses. They can
therefore assist the sector in meeting the challenges that it currently faces.




                                                   4
                  Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


Introduction

This report summarises the results from surveys of internal use (or non-use) of conferencing or virtual
meetings at nine individual universities (Aberystwyth, Bangor, Bradford, Central Lancashire, Glasgow,
Leeds, Manchester Metropolitan, Staffordshire, and Swansea)1, conducted between October 2010
and July 2011.

The surveys have been conducted as part of a JISC-funded project on the topic, and will inform a
forthcoming summary report which links them with other project outcomes and presents a strategic
analysis of conferencing within the sector.2 The Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea surveys have also
been undertaken in collaboration with another JISC-funded project, managed by the Welsh Video
Network (WVN).3

The discussion presents both quantitative and qualitative information, with comments from
respondents being used for illustration. These have sometimes been edited in minor ways to correct
grammatical or spelling errors, to avoid duplication, or to reduce length.

One difficulty in undertaking the surveys was finding an appropriate term for the subject area.
‘Conferencing’ is sometimes used but this has some difficulties in education because it implies more
than two users, and does not obviously include virtual teaching and learning activities. We wished to
include the latter in our research, and also wanted to ensure that we captured use of
videoconferencing between two locations such as separate campuses within the same institution.
After considerable discussion and piloting, we therefore used the term ‘virtual meetings’ in the
surveys, defining them as ones:

         ”where people interact in real time over the telephone network (when three or more locations
         are involved), the Internet or other electronic channels. Examples include audio, video and web
         conferencing and Elluminate sessions.”4

This definition ensured that respondents did not consider 1:1 audio calls by conventional telephony to
be part of the research.




1
  The detailed results from the Bradford survey are available at www.goodcampus.org.
2
  The other project outputs include a number of briefing papers and case studies, and a survey of travel managers and
others responsible for transport policy about their organisation’s use of conferencing, and its importance within their
travel reduction plans. See www.goodcampus.org.
3
  See www.wvn.ac.uk/greenict
4
  Elluminate is now Blackboard Collaborate.

                                                             5
                  Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


1. Survey Methodology

Table 1 summarises the dates, responses and background information for the nine universities.

Table 1: Survey Information For The Nine Universities Surveyed
 University      Abbreviation Date of         Total No of     Total No of                        Approximate
                 Used in       Survey         Respondents Respondents                            Percentage of
                 Report                       Starting        Finishing                          Total Staff5
 Aberystwyth Aber              April – May    121             111                                5%
                               2011
 Bangor          Bangor        June- July     214             197                                6%
                               2011
 Bradford        Bradford      December       111             92                                 2%
                               2010
 Central         UCLAN         May 2011       179             165                                6%
 Lancashire
 Glasgow         Glasgow       March- April 524               454                                6%
                               2011
 Leeds           Leeds         May – June     245             221                                2%
                               2011
 Manchester MMU                March 2011     157             151                                3%
 Metropolitan
 Staffordshire Staffs          Feb-March      153             144                                6%
                               2011
 Swansea         Swansea       July 2011      100             90                                 3%

For comparability, as many questions as possible were duplicated between the different surveys. The
main differences between the individual university surveys were questions about internal affiliations.

Again for comparability, and also because of extensive past piloting and feedback, the survey
questions were based on ones that have been used in a number of previous surveys for BT and other
organisations by one of the authors.6 An initial version was piloted in depth at the first institution to
be surveyed, the University of Bradford. More superficial piloting was done for each subsequent
survey but only minor changes were made as a result of this.


5
  Based on number of respondents starting as a % of total staff (academic, non academic and atypical) from HESA
2009/2010 Staff Data Tables. Available at
http://www.hesa.ac.uk/index.php/component/option,com_datatables/Itemid,121/task,show_category/catdex,2/ As many
non-academic staff will not be involved in virtual meetings this proportion likely underestimates the response rate of staff
involved in virtual meetings.
6
  See James P., Conferencing at BT - Results of a Survey on its Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts, BT and
University of Bradford, 2009. Downloadable from
www.btplc.com/Responsiblebusiness/Ourstory/Literatureandezines/Publicationsandreports/PDF/BTconferencingsurvey200
80609.pdf.

                                                             6
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

The university surveys were open to any employee. They were asked to visit a web site in order to
access the questionnaire. All responses were confidential. The request to undertake the survey was
conveyed by a variety of means, including email requests, internal publicity on Intranets, newsletters
etc., and word of mouth by internal contacts. It was made clear that the surveys were relevant to
both users and non-users but Table 2 shows that in practice most respondents (64% on average
across all surveys) were the former (or at least had participated in virtual meetings during the
previous year). Subsequent discussion uses this terminology of user and non-user to discuss question
responses. As Table 2 shows, almost half of the respondents on average were academics.

The open methodology used means that we do not know how representative our respondents were
of the total sample of users and non-users. Because of the on-line methodology, and the nature of the
survey, it is likely that there is a bias towards respondents who are interested in the issue and/or are
more IT-literate.




                                                   7
                                  Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 2: Respondent Roles (Responses as % other than second row)
Role                      Aber     Bangor     Bradford Glasgow           Leeds    MMU      Staffs   Swansea   UCLAN    Average
                                                                                                                       All unis
No. of respondents          111       200        92          458         220      151      144      92        164      181
Academic - mainly           24        26         20          35          33       7        5        25        13       21
research
Academic - mainly           14        13         22          12          8        20       34       14        25       18
teaching
Academic - other            9         9          14          6           7        9        4        14        6        9
Administrative              13        23         10          22          22       21       21       15        23       19
Management                  11        17         11          9           10       14       20       12        13       13
Specialised (Estates, IT,   22        9          16          12          16       24       13       15        12       15
Technical etc.)
Other                       5         5          8           4           5        7        2        4         8        5
Prefer not to answer        2         0          0           1           1        1        2        0         0        1

Table 3: Percentage of Respondents Participating in a Virtual Meeting Over the Previous Year
                          Aber   Bangor      Bradford      Glasgow Leeds         MMU      Staffs    Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                      All Unis
No                          30      25         39          44          34        62       30        13        46      36
Yes                         70      75         61          56          66        38       70        87        54      64




                                                                   8
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


2. Patterns of Virtual Meetings

There are three main types of virtual meeting. Often the same software, such as Skype, can be used
for all three:

      Audio only conferences – traditionally offered as a commercial service by telecommunications
       providers, e.g. BT’s MeetMe service, but now also available on a free or paid for basis via the
       Internet.

      Audio/Web conferences – using the Internet not only to run audio conferences but also to
       support with features such as messaging, viewing documents etc, e.g. Blackboard Collaborate
       (previously Elluminate).

      Video conferences – in which users see images of each other (accompanied by audio if it is
       working properly!), e.g. Skype for one to one conferencing or Adobe Connect. There are
       usually supporting applications such as messaging and document or image viewing.

Tables 4 and 5 (below) provide two different views of the usage of the different virtual meeting
technologies within universities. Table 4 contains the responses to a question asking users to list all
the technologies they made use of in the previous year. Table 5 is responses to a question about the
technology which people used in their last meeting, and therefore gives a ‘snapshot’ of activity. Taken
together, the two tables indicate that:

      The sector is making use of a wide variety of different technologies, both supported and
       ‘unofficial’. Comments suggest that the main example of the latter is Skype.

      The ‘mix’ of technologies varies considerably between institutions. For example, although all
       the universities have dedicated videoconferencing suites, there is a large difference in their
       utilisation. Over half of respondents at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Swansea and Staffordshire used
       them in the 12 months prior to the survey compared to less than 20% of respondents at
       Bradford, Leeds and MMU (see Table 4). The high level of usage at the three Welsh
       universities is almost certainly related to the existence of a national technical support service,
       the Welsh Video Network, whilst that at Staffordshire may be due to a high level of inter-site
       calls between its three campuses. University support for desktop platforms such as Adobe
       Connect or Blackboard Collaborate can also make a difference, as with UCLAN and the
       University of Bradford respectively.

      Non-video technologies are very prevalent. Audio only virtual meetings comprised 8-40% of
       the last virtual meetings of respondents, with an average of 26%, and were the most
       important single mode in 5 universities. Use of web conferencing (which is augmented audio)
       ranged from 5-23%, with an average of 12%.

Table 6 shows that the average number of virtual meetings in the last 4 weeks prior to the survey
ranged from 1.1 to 3.5, with an overall average of 2.

                                                    9
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Some interesting comments on the way that people are using the different solutions were:

       “This technology has the potential to be really, really useful. However, it is very difficult to
       make full use of it, for a number of reasons. Not all colleagues have access to the same basic
       technology, the same protocols, etc. This is why I usually end up using telephone conferencing,
       either hosted on my institution's phone network or on a colleague's institution's network. I use
       Skype for audio conferences as well, which is effective. Non-free solutions which only work on
       Windows are not good. The solution has to be easy to set up on generic hardware, and must
       work on Windows, Mac OS AND Linux. Web solutions which require Flash are flaky...
       Institutional videoconferencing facilities are possibly useful, but only with simple booking
       procedures and good technical support. At my previous institution, I was regularly involved
       with Access Grid meetings. These were fine when they worked, but the technical aspects were
       nightmarish. Even UK-wide solutions are problematic - my collaborations involve people in
       Italy, Norway and the US, the latter located at Los Alamos, which has its own security
       restrictions (they can't use Skype, for example), so solutions are difficult.

       “Having previously worked in the private sector, it was quite unusual to trail across town or
       across the country for a face-to-face meeting. Everything was done by conference call. And
       everyone had a speaker phone on their landline. Universities are miles behind here. Many of
       the meetings I attend which involve participants from other institutions could be done by way
       of conference call ..…. In contrast, one of the committees I convene now meets face-to-face
       only once a year (as opposed to about five times a year) because I can have them set up a
       conference call for our other meetings which everyone else can dial into. From my experience
       in the private sector, video conferencing is more hassle than it is worth. Telephone
       conferencing, in contrast, is simple and efficient.”

       “Skype is free and can save hundreds of hours per year in travel time. I now use Skype to video
       conference with students to augment office hours -- saves both of us travel. I use it to
       collaborate in Ukraine and the USA.”

       “I use the videoconferencing facility as much as possible, but this could be due to the fact I
       have Movi (desktop conferencing), access to the booking service and access to all the VC rooms
       on campus.”

       “Our own studio is great, and the one in [name deleted] which we sometimes use is good too,
       but many studios are uncomfortable or difficult to arrange (furniture etc.) for different styles of
       meeting. Some studios ban catering which is a no-no and dissuades against use of studios for
       events.”

       “I have used videoconferencing facilities frequently since the University videoconferencing
       network was first installed almost 20 years ago and I have been very happy with the
       experiences I have had.”



                                                   10
                                      Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 4: Respondents Usage of Different Virtual Meeting Technologies During the Previous Year (NB Respondents could select more
than one answer) (Answers as % other than second row)
Technology              Aber       Bangor      Bradford Glasgow Leeds           MMU Staffs        Swansea UCLAN         Average
                                                                                                                        All Unis
No. of respondents      85         214         63         290         160       61       106      84        95          129
VC suite at Uni         53         63          10         37          16        16       73       79        23          41
VC suite elsewhere      14         18          5          18          12        7        8        41        18          16
Elluminate or Adobe     13         1           38         2           5         3        7        11        36          13
         7
Connect
Desktop video with 1    21         33          29         26          24        34       35       33        31          30
other person
Desktop video with 2    18         18          27         23          18        20       23       20        19          21
or more other people
Access grid node        2          2           2          3           3         3                 4                     3
Web conference          26         18          32         33          43        30       20       29        33          29
Audio only conference 39           44          41         49          60        38       24       44        48          43
Instant messaging       20         21          25         17          16        30       17       20        33          22
      8
Other                   5          3           10         10          9         16       8        4         8           8




7
 At UCLAN the option of Adobe Connect, which is their main teaching software, was given instead of Elluminate
8
 BigBlueButton, Conect Pro, dedicated text-based web forum, DimDim, EVO, FaceTime, FacilitatePro, GoTo Meeting, IP webcam, Moodle synchronous forum, MS
Live Meeting, personal mobile with speaker, Second Life, Sococo, synchronous discussion through internet discussion forum, Wimba virtual classroom were cited by
respondents.

                                                                               11
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 5: Respondents Usage of Different Technologies for Their Last Virtual Meeting (Responses as % other than second row)
Technology              Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds             MMU Staffs        Swansea UCLAN         Average
                                                                                                                         All Unis
No. of respondents      84         158        60           278          151      59       104      83          93        119
VC suite at Uni         38         40         2            18           7        10       57       45          10        25
VC suite elsewhere      5          5          2            5            3        2        1        13          4         4
Elluminate or Adobe     1          1          22           1            5        3        3        6           15        6
Connect
Desktop video with 1    5          11         10           11           9        19       13       4           7         10
other person
Desktop video with 2    6          6          12           8            7        7        9        7           11        8
or more other people
Access grid node        1          0          0            0            1        2        0        0           0         0
Web conference          10         9          10           13           23       15       5        10          12        12
Audio only conference 27           22         38           31           40       25       8        12          30        26
Instant messaging       2          4          3            3            3        5        3        1           7         3
other                   5          2          2            8            4        12       3        2           5         5

Table 6: Average Number of Times that Respondents Participated in a Virtual Meeting Over the Last Four Full Working Weeks
(Responses as % other than second row)
                          Aber     Bangor   Bradford Glasgow Leeds             MMU Staffs         Swansea UCLAN        Average
                                                                                                                       All Unis
No. of respondents        84       158      61           282         158       60       105       84         93        121
Average excluding don’t   1.4      1.4      2.2          2.7         2.0       1.1      2.0       3.5        2.1       2.0
know responses
Average excluding don’t   2.1      2.4      3.0          4.0         2.9       2.2      2.8       4.7        3.9       3.1
know and zero responses




                                                                 12
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

2.1 Characteristics of Respondent’s Last Virtual Meeting
Information on a specific virtual meeting is likely to be more robust than that on general usage as it
involves less estimation and recall, and concentrates on a very specific situation. We therefore asked
a number of questions about respondent’s last virtual meeting. The answers revealed that:

      The average length varied from 58-76 minutes between universities, with an overall average of
       63 minutes (see Table 7 below).

      The average number of locations involved varied between 2.9 and 4.2, with an overall average
       of 3.6 (see Table 8).

      The average number of participants ranged from 6.5 and 10.6, with an overall average of 8.6
       (see Table 9).

      Table 10 shows that respondents generally accessed the meetings from either their university
       office (20% to 59%, with an overall average of 40%) or a university videoconferencing suite
       (7% to 55%, with an overall average of 26%). Relatively few did so from home (5% to 22%, with
       an overall average of 11%).

      The nature of the last virtual meeting was reasonably consistent between universities with
       most being a continuing regular discussion (a range of 15% to 46%, with an overall average of
       37%) or a specifically set up 1 to 1 call (13% to 32%, with an overall average of 25%) (see Table
       11). Only a small proportion of respondents were using the technologies for a
       teaching/learning session involving students (a range of 1-15%, with an overall average of 6%).

2.2 Uses of Virtual Meeting Technologies
The comments highlighted the many different ways in which people were using the technologies, for
example:

       “We've been using Sococo in the Games Technology group since the Summer - we use it
       extensively to hold mini virtual meetings, since we are spread over 3 offices in the same
       building and some of our team members are part time. It's great.”

       “All our PG provision is online or blended learning formats. A system that allows both one to
       one and one to many virtual meetings to occur is an important and proven tool to enhance
       motivation and retention of online and blended learning students, especially those who are
       combining part time study with full time work.”

       “I am also a new member of staff at [name deleted] having relocated. I was interviewed using
       the video conferencing facilities at my then institute. The whole process was very good and it
       obviously didn't hinder my chance of getting the job.”




                                                  13
                                Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 7: Average Length in Minutes of the Last Virtual Meeting
                           Aber    Bangor      Bradford Glasgow       Leeds    MMU      Staffs   Swansea    UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                    All Unis
No. of respondents        75       156       49           228         129      57       103      82         90      108
Average excluding don’t   68       61        56           64          64       60       62       76         58      63
know and zero
responses

Table 8: Average Number of Separate Locations Involved in the Last Virtual Meeting
                         Aber     Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds             MMU     Staffs   Swansea    UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                    All Unis
No. of respondents      83         156        59          275         150      55       102      82         89      117
Average excluding don’t 3.4        3.2        3.8         4.0         4.2      3.6      2.9      3.8        3.3     3.6
know and zero responses

Table 9: Average Number of Participants in the Last Virtual Meeting
                         Aber      Bangor      Bradford Glasgow       Leeds    MMU      Staffs    Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                    All Unis
No. of respondents        75       156        49          228         128      55       102       82        90      107
Average excluding don’t   8.4      7.5        6.5         8.7         9.9      10.6     8.0       9.7       8.2     8.6
know and zero responses




                                                                 14
                                Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 10: Location for the Last Virtual Meeting (Responses as % other than second row)
                          Aber        Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds          MMU     Staffs   Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                    All Unis
No. of respondents      83         155        59          274         150       55       101      82        89      116
My main university      35         32         59          50          57        44       28       20        37      40
office
A VC suite at the       37         38         7           19          7         7        55       50        16      26
university
Another university      15         14         12          9           18        22       6        9         24      14
location
In another university   2          3          2           3           3         2        1        7         0       3
At home                 6          5          17          13          9         22       6        7         17      11
Other                   5          8          3           6           5         4        4        9         7       6




                                                                 15
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 11: The Nature of the Last Virtual Meeting (Responses as % other than second row)
                          Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds           MMU Staffs      Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                   All Unis
No. of respondents        83      154        59          274         150       55       101      82        89      116
Continuing regular        40      46         31          46          39        38       46       33        15      37
discussion – e.g.
team/project meeting
A specially set up one-   15      9          7           8           17        6        3        10        16      10
of call to deliver
information (e.g.
management briefing)
A specially set up one-   25      18         37          24          32        26       13       24        28      25
off call to discuss a
specific issue or
problem
A formal meeting eg       11      12         7           10          6         9        25       16        19      12
governance, exam
board
A teaching/learning       4       3          7           8           1         7        8        5         15      6
session involving
students
Other                     11      12         12          6           5         15       6        12        8       10




                                                                16
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

3. Impacts of Virtual Meetings

Respondents were generally very positive about the impact of virtual meetings. Table 12 shows that
the vast majority (89% to 98%, with an overall average of 93%) felt that their last conference was
completely or partially successful in meeting its objectives, and that very few (a range of 1% to 7%,
with an overall average of 4%) felt that it was unsuccessful. However, Table 13 indicates that, within
this small minority, the virtual nature of the call was the main reason for its complete or partial
failure.

Table 14 shows that most respondents (46% to 65%, with an overall average of 54%) felt that their
last virtual meeting had definitely or almost certainly replaced the need for a face-to-face meeting.
(To ensure that findings are conservative, subsequent analyses of travel avoidance are based only on
data from respondents that were 90-100% certain that their last virtual meeting had replaced a face-
to face one).

For these definitely/almost certainly replaced face-to-face meetings the average number of
participants was 7.2, with a variation from 5.3 to 8.9 in individual universities (see Table 15).

In most cases (40% to 62%, with an overall average of 56% of respondents), the avoided face-to-face
meeting would have involved travel by the respondent to another location (see Table 16).

As Table 17 shows, respondents were generally positive about the impacts of virtual meetings on
their work. The main benefits were thought to be:

      Reduced stress/time travel (67% to 85%, with an overall average of 75%);
      Better control of time (44% to 75%, with an overall average of 61%); and
      Easier to stay in touch with colleagues (39% to 55%, with an overall average of 49%).

The main disbenefits were thought to be:

      Problems because of reduced face-to-face contact with colleagues (16% to 22%, with an
       overall average of 19%); and
      Less effective meetings (11% to 22%, with an overall average of 16%).

The following sections illustrate these and related points with respondent’s quotes.




                                                    17
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

3.1 The Benefits of Virtual Meetings

Many respondents highlighted the value of avoiding the time and stress associated with travel, with
benefits to work performance and personal lives:

       “I have saved so much time and stress through the use of VC. The only way to improve would
       be for desktop videoconferencing to reach everyone’s desktop.”

       “I recently went to [name deleted] for a 2hr meeting. I find it very difficult to interact via the
       phone, particularly when others are together in a group. As it was an important meeting I
       travelled for 10 hrs to get there and back. This was not time well spent. I think
       videoconferencing would help that.”

Avoiding travel can enable home working too, with associated work life balance benefits:

       “I work part time and virtual meetings are a great way of staying in contact. i also travel a long
       distance and have a small child so this form of working offers me a chance to go some way
       towards a suitable work life balance.”

Virtual meetings can also compensate for travel difficulties:

       “Did a PhD viva by Skype for London University during snow.”

Avoided time can then be used for other productive purposes, such as greater student contact:

       “Having been part of an online MSc with regular online meetings, I know that this be greatly
       beneficial in reaching students etc. We are currently using Adobe Connect for video
       conferencing. The main difficulty I find with VC, is to try and get people not familiar with IT to
       get used to these technologies.”

Another benefit mentioned on a number of occasions is the greater ease of arranging meetings:

       “Meeting plus travel may require 3-4 hours freed up of diary time. It can be virtually impossible
       to get the required number of senior people to sufficient free time in their diary for a face-to-
       face meeting. Significant scope for increased use of virtual meetings in these circumstances.”

The relatively low time investment in setting up and participating in conferences allows contact with
people which would have been difficult or impossible without it:

       “With virtual meetings, extended groups can get together to discuss issues and progress a lot
       more often and a lot more readily, this aims progression of work and allows all those involved
       to continue working in the same direction, thus making progress smoother, and goals easier to
       attain. This means more frequent meetings are possible, with much less traveling, and thus less

                                                    18
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

       cost implications involved. With virtual meetings, it means a meeting is just for the duration of
       that meeting, and not the full day lost due to excess traveling, therefore leading to more
       person productivity in that period (multiplied by the many meetings held across the year).”

It is also easier to involve people who might otherwise be excluded:

       “Wales is a very difficult country to meet up in physically since it is unified by inaccessibility, so
       video conferencing is essential both ethically (climate change!) and practically.”

       “I also think it can help more people to attend the meeting e.g. when someone finishes a
       teaching session but then does not have time to travel to the meeting venue.”

Some people also believe that virtual meetings can be more effective than physical ones (although
see below for an alternative view):

       “I think once a group has met and been established over a few meetings a virtual meeting can
       be effective in replacing a face-to-face one. For this project we still have met 3 times over the
       year face-to-face supplemented by virtual meetings in between. This has worked really well,
       meetings are shorter and more focused due to the nature of the meeting. But on occasions we
       have had technical problems, which is always a worry, but people travelling issues can also
       impact on face-to-face meetings.”

       “(My previous employer) conducts the majority of meetings either virtually or via
       teleconference and these work very well as well as improving time management.”

Another advantage mentioned by a number of people was improving communication with, and gain
greater inputs from, external parties such as suppliers or partner institutions overseas:

       “We're seeing a lot more use of WebEx (and similar) for sale meetings and support calls with
       equipment suppliers. This is allowing us to get access to highly skilled third-party staff who
       would normally not be willing to make a special journey to [name deleted].”

These benefits are especially great when activities span international boundaries, and therefore time
zones:

       “My last virtual meeting was with the India Office, and that is why it could not have taken
       place without using Skype. We don't have regularly scheduled meetings, but meet when
       something needs sorting out, every one or two months. As the China Office starts processing
       more applications, I will probably have to start having Skype meetings with them too.”

       “My students can be anywhere in the world and I can still assist them in their learning. My staff
       can be working from home, abroad or just along the corridor and I can instantly connect with
       them.”


                                                     19
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


These translate into tangible benefits in travel and subsistence savings, and improved productivity, as
discussed in section 5. There can also be more unexpected benefits:

       “Time + financial resources freed up as I don’t need to host/provide coffee and cake (as well as
       (less) travel time + parking headaches for my visitors).”

3.3    Virtual Meeting Disbenefits and Concerns

A minority of those commenting on the impacts of virtual meetings made negative comments. In
most cases these were about barriers to its use (discussed in Section 6.2) but a number of people
observed that virtual interaction cannot completely replace face-to-face meetings:

       Virtual meetings are an excellent tool for enabling on-going collaboration without having to
       trek somewhere in person. I am currently involved in a working group that meets twice every
       year in the US and in between we have monthly virtual meetings. These are excellent for
       keeping this project at the forefront of your mind, but would never be able to replace the
       productivity of attending in person the meetings twice a year. I therefore believe that virtual
       meetings can complement face-to-face meetings and should be encouraged, but will never
       replace the work that can be achieved through face-to-face meetings.”

       “A number of meetings could be carried out virtually but social interaction and off line chats
       can be a big builder of information.”

This is especially true when participants are from countries which place great emphasis on ‘face’ and
other aspects of personal communication:

       “I engage with Asia and often culturally people do not wish to engage in virtual meetings as it
       can show a lack of respect so a push like this needs to consider specific circumstances.”

Many respondents commented that virtual meetings work best when both sides know each other
well and where initial contacts and relationships have been established.

       “Virtual meetings should NOT replace face-to-face meetings. They have a place but are part of
       a mix, not a complete solution. There is no substitute for face-to-face contact, particularly in
       the early stages of a relationship with another organisation. Once the relationship is
       established then VCs and phone conferences have a useful role to play, alongside less frequent
       face-to-face meetings. In my area, Knowledge Transfer, a frequently heard saying is
       'Knowledge/Technology Transfer is a contact sport' - this is absolutely true and good VC
       facilities can aid this alongside regular fact-to-face contact.”

Some respondents also had bad experiences of virtual meetings:



                                                  20
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

       “They work for some things, if you know the people concerned, otherwise they just allow even
       more bumbling inefficiency than real meetings.”

       “The meeting was pretty disastrous, and attended at my end by an external. Could not hear
       what was being said, could not join in discussion, did not feel we were making any impact on
       what was being said, and the system kept breaking down. Meant much more work for me after
       the meeting due to misunderstandings/ failed communication. Really rather embarrassing!”

       “The principal obstacle to using videoconferencing more regularly is that is makes meetings
       much harder to conduct/less profitable. The poor video and sound quality plus time lag mean
       that most meetings (with say 5 attendees at each of 2 locations) end up being a conversation
       between the two meeting chairs. This significantly hampers the normal interaction and
       discussion that should happen when a group of people meet.”

There is also the fear that it will increase workload:

       “The potential for becoming a burden - as email has. We need to learn from the mistakes of
       email and put appropriate protocols and a code of etiquette in place before rushing headlong
       to an always in camera mode of working.“

For some people with disabilities they can also be problematic (though for people who have difficulty
travelling they can be a boon):

       “Have speech impediment. I'm very reluctant to do anything like this.”

       “I think video conferencing might be more useful than the teleconferencing facility I used. I
       couldn't hear people at other end properly and too much interference by people sitting near
       equipment at other end. Also partially deaf which doesn't help!”

And for others there are more tangible losses:

       “In a virtual meeting do you get virtual tea and biscuits?”




                                                    21
                                Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 12: Success of Last Virtual Meeting (Responses as % other than second row)
                          Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds           MMU      Staffs   Swansea     UCLAN      Average
                                                                                                                          All Unis
No. of respondents       83        154         59          274         150      55        101      82          89         116
Completely successful    65        63          61          68          68       58        70       66          67         65
Partially successful     29        33          31          30          27       31        19       23          28         28
Neutral                  1         1           3           1           2        4         5        2           3          2
Partially unsuccessful   2         3           3           1           2        4         4        5           0          3
Completely               1         1           0           1           0        2         1        2           1          1
unsuccessful
Do not know              1         1           2           0           1        2         1        1           0          1

Table 13: Whether Lack of Success of Last Virtual Meeting was Due to its Virtual Nature (Responses as % other than second row)
                        Aber       Bangor       Bradford Glasgow Leeds            MMU Staffs        Swansea UCLAN          Average
                                                                                                                           All Unis
No. of respondents      3          5            2          4            3         3        5        6           1          4
Completely              33         40           50         25           33        67       40       67          0          39
Partially               67         60           50         50           67        33       40       33          100        56
Not at all              0          0            0          25           0         0        20       0           0          5
Do not know             0          0            0          0            0         0        0        0           0          0




                                                                  22
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 14: Whether Last Virtual Meeting Replaced a Face-to-Face Meeting (Responses as % other than second row)
Response                Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds          MMU Staffs         Swansea UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                 All Unis
No. of respondents        83      154        59          274         149      55       101       81    89        116
Definitely (100%          38      36         28          41          33       31       46        46    34        37
certainty) replace a
face-to-face meeting?
Almost certainly (>90%    19      24         15          14          13       13       19        19    18        17
certainty) replace a
face-to-face meeting
Probably (50-90%          8       16         19          14          17       15       12        5     11        13
certainty) replace a
face-to-face meeting
Possibly (less than 50%   7       7          10          4           5        2        11        6     7         7
certainty) replace a
face-to-face meeting
Not replace a face-to-    5       3          5           6           3        15       0         5     10        6
face meeting
Enable a meeting          19      15         20          20          26       24       11        17    19        19
which otherwise would
not have happened
Do not know               2       0          2           1           2        2        2         3     1         2




                                                                23
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 15: Number of People Attending if a Face-To-Face Meeting Had Taken Place
Technology             Aber       Bangor       Bradford Glasgow Leeds          MMU     Staffs    Swansea    UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                    All unis
No. of respondents      49        93         26          150         69       23       65        52         46      64
Average excluding any   7.3       6.1        7.0         6.5         8.9      8.0      7.6       8.3        5.3     7.2
do not know and zero
responses

Table 16: Location if a Face-To-Face Meeting Had Taken Place (Responses as % other than second row)
Location                  Aber       Bangor    Bradford Glasgow Leeds           MMU Staffs        Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                    All unis
No. of respondents      49        93         26          149         69       23       65        52         46      64
At my location          18        26         39          26          26       30       29        21         39      28
Elsewhere               55        60         58          56          62       61       40        60         50      56
Do not know             27        14         4           18          12       9        31        21         11      16




                                                                24
                                  Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

 Table 17: Main Impacts of Virtual Meetings on Respondents’ Work (Responses as % other than second row)
                         Aber       Bangor      Bradford Glasgow Leeds         MMU Staffs        Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                   All Unis
No. of respondents           81      150        59          268         147       54      100       80     84      114
Reduced stress/time of       70      84         75          67          77        69      77        85     70      75
travelling
Better control of time       44      64         61          56          59        61      75        65     61      61
Easier to stay in touch      46      55         39          55          52        50      47        45     50      49
with colleagues
Feeling more part of a       21      27         14          26          24        32      23        28     21      24
team
Easier to access expertise   26      17         31          21          31        22      17        34     21      24
Problems because of          21      21         17          17          22        20      20        16     21      19
reduced face-to-face
contact with important
colleagues
Less effective meetings      15      21         22          14          18        13      12        16     11      16
Easier to make decisions     9       13         9           19          19        17      6         18     6       13
Improved knowledge and       9       10         3           7           10        9       6         9      6       8
understanding of the
business
Other effects than these     5       3          9           5           2         9       4         1      10      5
Do not know                  1       1          5           2           4         3                 3      2       3
No effect                            0          5           2           1         2                 0      1       2




                                                                   25
                 Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

4. Travel and Carbon Avoidance

The potential for travel avoidance from virtual meetings has been highlighted in a number of
Government and sector publications, and was also mentioned by many respondents:

        “A key benefit of virtual meetings is the reduced impact on the environment - at present it
        tends to be assumed that everyone must travel to e.g. learned society committee meetings and
        other events generating needless CO2.”

        “As a part time worker taking time out to travel 78 mile round trip to attend 30 minute
        meeting could save me 2 ½ hours driving time as well as travel expenses claim.”

We asked respondents who were 90-100% certain that their last virtual meeting had ‘avoided a face-
to-face meeting for them personally’ to provide data on their travel avoidance. As Table 18 shows,
their estimates ranged between an average of 223 and 3,341 miles for individual universities, with an
overall average of 1,346 miles. The higher figures are created by a relatively small number of long
distance air journeys, which – if to Australia – can be the equivalent of 100-150 intercity train
journeys in England.

Previous work for BT has suggested that people tend to exaggerate travel avoidance from virtual
meetings, with a major reason being that the latter would not always be replaced by a face-to-face
encounter in practice.9 In a survey question, respondents are comparing a concrete reality (a virtual
meeting that actually happened) with a hypothetical situation (a face-to-face meeting that might have
happened). At the time of answering the question it is easy to assume that the hypothetical
alternative is equally concrete but in reality many factors might have meant that a face-to-face
encounter did not occur. This is particularly true of trips involving long haul air travel, which are
expensive, and take up a considerable amount of time. Factors which might have led to a decision not
to attend include diary or other constraints (including after the decision to attend had been made),
reorganisation of processes and activities to avoid the need for travel (e.g. fewer meetings, inviting
another keynote), and travel disruptions.

To take account of this issue, particularly with regard to the distorting effect of long haul trips, we
separately calculated the average distances with a 1000 mile cap on avoided travel. Table 19 shows
that the mean for this answer varied between 92 and 808 miles for the respondents, with an average
of 300 miles. The exclusion of long haul air travel means that the figures are conservative, in that they
are more likely to under estimate than over estimate average travel savings from each avoided
journey.

Table 20 shows that the primary mode of transport that respondents would have taken for the
avoided face-to-face meeting also varied considerably between universities. Overall, the main
transport mode was train (between 15% and 72%, with an overall average of 37%) followed by car

9
 James, P. 2008a. ‘Homeworking and carbon reduction - the evidence’, Chapter 10 in Lake A. and Dwelly, T. (eds.), Can
homeworking save the planet?, London: Smith Institute 2—8. At:
http://www.flexibility.co.uk/downloads/Canhomeworkingsavetheplanet.pdf.

                                                          26
                 Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

(diesel and petrol) (between 14-58%, overall average 35%) and then plane (between 7-44%, overall
average 22%). For individual universities there was significant variation. Some obvious causes of this
are a relatively high number of air journeys in universities that are distant from London or Eurostar
links to the Continent (e.g. Glasgow), and a relatively high number of car journeys in universities
without good rail links (e.g. Aberystwyth).

We also asked if the last virtual meeting had created any additional travel. This is important because,
if it occurs, it should be offset against any travel reductions which are being identified. As Table 21
indicates, this was the case with only a small minority of conferences, with generally less than 10%
indicating that it had definitely or probably stimulated additional travel.

Some of this additional travel was because the virtual meeting failed to meet its objectives and a face-
to-face meeting was necessary. However, in other cases it was because the increased contact
generated additional opportunities:

        “There were areas of mutual interest for collaboration with the new partner and it is likely we
        will travel for a meeting to discuss collaboration in more detail.”

Some additional travel was also created by the need to get to a video conferencing location:

        “Although there are two video-conferencing suites on the site where I work I had to travel to
        the video-conferencing suite across town, because there is no specialised support on the site
        where I work. The second part of the meeting agreed that a face-to-face meeting was now
        required.”

We used a methodology developed by one of the authors to produce travel and greenhouse gas (as
carbon dioxide equivalent – CO2eq) avoidance estimates which take account of these issues. The
calculations are contained in a separate paper.10 The methodology involves the generation of
optimistic (high), conservative (medium) and very conservative (low) estimates of CO2eq avoidance per
virtual meeting which are presented in Table 22. It can be seen that the overall average is 351 kg of
CO2eq avoidance in the high case, 25 in the medium case and 9 in the low case. The figures are net
ones which assume a 10% offset of gross avoidance from use of energy in ICT equipment and
secondary (‘rebound’) effects. They are also confined to travel avoidance by internal staff at each
university, i.e. they ignore any travel avoidance by external participants in the virtual meeting.

The main difference between the high and medium/low estimates is that the former includes long
haul travel. This has a greater carbon intensity than land travel, and HEFCE also recommends the use
of additional multipliers to reflect non-carbon global warming impacts. This means that a long haul air
journey to Australia can be the equivalent of 100-150 train journeys and perhaps 600-1200 inter
campus journeys in CO2eq terms. Hence, a small number of long haul air travel trips can have a great
impact on the average figure produced. For this reason, we consider that the medium and low case
figures are more robust.

10
  James, P. and Hopkinson, L., Carbon Impacts of Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK Universities, University of
Bradford, May 2012, forthcoming.

                                                           27
                                Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 18: Average Distance Travelled To the Avoided Meeting, There And Back (Miles) (All Values)
                        Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds          MMU Staffs           Swansea   UCLAN     Average
                                                                                                                       All Unis
No. of respondents      26         54         15          85          42        14       26        30        22        35
Average excluding any   838        634        381         1771        2047      808      2070      223       3341      1346
don’t know responses

Table 19: Average Distance Travelled To The Avoided Meeting, There And Back (Miles) (Excluding Values Over 1000 Miles)
                        Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow       Leeds    MMU Staffs          Swansea UCLAN        Average
                                                                                                                       All Unis
No. of respondents      21         49         14         68          35       14        20        28         12        29
Average excluding any 185          245        258        377         271      808       92        178        282       300
don’t know responses

Table 20: Primary Form Of Transport Used To Attend Avoided Meeting (Responses as % other than second row)
                        Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds         MMU Staffs         Swansea UCLAN          Average
                                                                                                                       All Unis
No. of respondents      27         55         15          85          43        14       26        30        23        35
Petrol car              30         24         7           14          12        7        31        33        0         18
Diesel car              26         27         7           4           2         21       27        30        13        17
Van/LGV                 0          0          0           0           0         0        0         0         0         0
Train                   22         29         73          37          47        57       15        27        30        37
Plane                   19         15         13          38          23        14       23        7         44        22
Taxi                    0          0          0           0           0         0        0         0         0         0
Tube/metro              0          0          0           2           0         0        0         0         0         0
Bus                     0          0          0           0           0         0        0         0         0         0
Tram                    0          0          0           0           0         0        0         0         0         0
Bicycle                 0          0          0           0           0         0        0         0         0         0
Walk                    0          0          0           2           9         0        4         0         9         3
Other                   0          6          0           2           5         0        0         3         0         2
Do not know             4          0          0           1           2         0        0         0         4         1



                                                                 28
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 21: Whether the Last Virtual Meeting Stimulated Additional Travel (Responses as % other than 2nd row)
                        Aber        Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds           MMU Staffs         Swansea    UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                      All Unis
No. of respondents       81        151        59          271         148      54       101       81          87      115
Definitely               6         5          3           3           5        4        5         12          5       5
Probably                 6         2          2           2           3        4        2         4           1       3
Possibly                 9         7          5           6           2        4        4         5           3       5
No                       75        84         88          88          88       87       87        75          87      84
Do not know              4         2          2           2           2        2        2         4           3       3

Table 22. Estimated Net Greenhouse Gas (CO2eq) Avoidance per Virtual Meeting by Individual Universities
                        Aber      Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds           MMU Staffs          Swansea     UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                      All Unis
Per Virtual Meeting
CO2eq Avoidance (kg) -
High case                230       176        55          455         508      164      679       63          827     351
Per Virtual Meeting
CO2eq Avoidance (kg) -
Medium case              24        27         13          65          21       13       14        26          26      25
Per Virtual Meeting
CO2eq Avoidance (kg) -
Low case                 8         10         6           21          8        5        4         7           10      9




                                                                 29
                  Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

5. Quantifying the Business Benefits of Virtual Meetings

As noted above, respondents noted a number of business benefits from virtual meetings, including
avoided travel costs and increased productivity. This section tries to quantify these.

Many respondents noted the potential of virtual meetings to reduce business travel costs:

         “My feeling is that we are behind other organisations in adoption of virtual meetings. My
         group spends at least £20k on travel to meetings each year.”

Table 23 shows that the last virtual meeting of those who definitely (100% certain) or almost certainly
(90% certain or higher) felt that it avoided average travel costs of between £26 and £122, with an
average of £87 across all universities. This equates to an average cost per mile for all travel modes at
individual universities of 15p to 48p, with an average of 29p. (Note that this is based on a travel ‘cap’
of 1000 miles for reasons explained in the previous section, and intended to give a conservative bias
to the figures produced).11

Some face-to-face meetings can also involve overnight stays, as in this case:

         “Banner User Group meetings are held at various Universities, most involving overnight stays.
         We often decline to attend because the benefits outweigh the cost. The option of
         videoconferencing would enable us to participate more widely.”

Table 24 shows that 9-34% of the respondents who were 90-100% certain that their last virtual
meeting avoided travel would have stayed overnight, with an overall average of 24%. Many of these
overnight stays would have been in the relatively expensive areas of London and the South East, so a
figure of £80 per night would not be unreasonable. Averaging this across all respondents gives an
average avoided subsistence figure of £19 per night.

There are also time savings from not having to travel as these comments indicate:

         “At least 6 members of our Team at [name deleted] Programme travel regularly to visit trainee
         placements across North and mid-Wales, virtual meetings would cost less and be less time
         consuming. A whole day of work can be lost to undertake a one-hour meeting in mid-Wales. If
         we could arrange Skype meetings it would be excellent.”

         “A meeting in [name deleted] means for me a 4 or 5 hour absence from my desk to attend a
         meeting for an hour.”


11
  The cost figures for trips including journeys of greater than 1,000 miles were not used as the data was not robust, as
many people had trouble estimating the cost for hypothetical long distance flights. Their exclusion has less impact than
might be thought to cost calculations (as opposed to carbon ones) as log air haul air trips are infrequent and relatively
‘cheap’, e.g. it is usually possible to get an economy return to Sydney for around £738, which is only 3 times the peak
standard return fare from Stoke-on-Trent to London.

                                                             30
                  Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 25 shows that respondents whose conference definitely or probably replaced a face-to-face
meeting felt that it had avoided, on average, between 5 and 11 hours of productive time, with an
average of 8 across all universities. If this time is valued at £25 per hour, this gives an average value of
approximately £187.12

Of course, some of this time might have been used productively – for example, by thinking about
issues or talking in all modes, and doing office type work on trains. We did, however, ask respondents
to take this account when giving their answer. Some of the conference calls would also have been
unsuccessful, and/or generated a need for additional travel. However, Tables 14 and 21 show that
neither of these were major factors.

Table 26 provides figures for the total avoided cost for respondents who were 90-100% certain that
their last virtual meeting avoided travel for them personally. This ranges from £223 - £334 for
individual universities and is £266 when averaged across them all. The latter comprises:

        £87 of avoided travel cost per call (see above);

        £19 of avoided subsistence per call (see above); and

        £187 of increased productivity arising from time that would otherwise have been spent on
        travel (see above).

One important point to note with regard to travel cost avoidance is the divergence from carbon
avoidance. On a distance basis, costs per mile for long haul travel can be relatively low – for example,
4p per mile for an economy return fare of £840 for the 21,000 mile return trip to Sydney from
London. This is more than 20 times less than the 92p per mile for a peak economy return of £246 for
the 266 mile return trip between Stoke on Trent and London. This contrasts with the 100-150 times
CO2eq impact of the same air journey when compared to the same train journey.




12
  Based on £41,123 as the mid-point salary above which 48% of all academic staff earn, and below which 48% of all
academic staff earn, divided by 1650 hours per year as the standard figure for TRAC costing. See Table B - Academic staff
(excluding atypical) by source of basic salary, academic employment function, salary range, professorial role, terms of
employment and gender 2009/10. Available at www.hesa.ac.uk.

                                                           31
                                Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 23: Average Travel Cost Avoidance by Respondent’s From Their Last Virtual Meeting (£) (Excluding Values Corresponding To
Distances Over 1000 Miles)
                        Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds            MMU Staffs         Swansea UCLAN         Average
                                                                                                                         All Unis
No. of respondents      21         51         14         69          34         14      20         28          11
Average cost in         84         70         93         87          122        119     26         86          86        87
pounds excl. any do
not know responses
Cost per mile in        0.45       0.29       0.36       0.23        0.45       0.15    0.28       0.48        0.30      0.29
pounds (based on
Table 19 figures) (£)

Table 24: Percentage Of Respondents Who Said that the Avoided Meeting Would Have Required An Overnight Stay (Responses as %
other than second row)
                         Aber     Bangor    Bradford Glasgow Leeds          MMU Staffs       Swansea UCLAN         Average
                                                                                                                   All Unis
No. of respondents       47       90        26          147        68       23      65       52          44        62
Yes                      30       24        12          34         28       9       17       27          32        24
No                       55       69        89          59         56       83      82       64          57        68
Do not know              15       7         0           7          16       9       2        10          11        9

Table 25: Average Time Spent Travelling To the Avoided Meeting (Hours) (Excluding Values Corresponding To Distances > 1000 Miles)
Time spent              Aber      Bangor       Bradford Glasgow Leeds          MMU Staffs        Swansea UCLAN          Average
                                                                                                                        All unis
No. of respondents      21        49           14        68          35        14       20       28          12         29
Average excl. any do    8         6            6         11          5         10       11       11          7          8
not know responses




                                                                 32
                                Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 26: Estimated Cost Savings Associated With Last Virtual Meeting (£) (Based on respondents who were 90-100% certain that their
last virtual meeting avoided travel)
Overnight stay            Aber       Bangor   Bradford Glasgow Leeds             MMU Staffs       Swansea UCLAN         Average
                                                                                                                        All unis
Avoided travel cost (£) 84           70       93           87          122       119      26      86         86         87
% overnight stays         30         24       12           34          28        9        17      27         32         24
Avoided subsistence       24         19       10           27          22        7        14      22         26         19
cost per respondent
(£) (assuming £80 per
overnight stay)
Total avoided travel      108        89       103          114         144       126      40      108        112
and subsistence costs
Avoided loss of           8          6        6            11          5         10       11      11         7          8
productive time (hrs)
Value of productive       160        120      120          220         100       200      220     220        140        160
time (£) (@£20/hr)
Total                     268        289      223          334         244       326      260     328        252        266




                                                                 33
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


6. The Future

The survey results suggest that there is considerable potential for greater use of virtual meeting
technologies in the sector, with:

      Most current users (an overall average of 81%, with a range of 52% to 89%) feeling that there
       are further opportunities to replace face-to-face meetings (see Table 27); and

      Between 26-60% of non-users (and an overall average of 46%) saying that they would
       definitely be interested in making greater use of virtual meetings if they were easier to access
       and use (and a further 37% overall answering maybe) (see Table 28).

6.1 Scope for Greater Use of Virtual Meetings amongst Current Users
Respondents identified many opportunities for greater use, including the area of greatest current
usage, small group meetings:

       “At Internal Level - for Faculty staff meetings of all types - from informal get togethers, ad hoc
       working groups of the Faculty to formal committee meetings.”

       “Opportunities also exist for wider university groups who are geographically dispersed.
       Essential element is the ability to effectively view and share documentation during the meeting
       and to effectively present information in a variety of media rich formats.”

       “Has great benefits to replace presentation type meetings. Technologies or environments that
       include document sharing and shared mic would have the potential to replace project-style
       round table meetings.”

       “There are lots of pan-Wales meeting. Please petition HEFCW, HEA Wales, JISC, HESA, HEFCE,
       QAA, Research Councils, Welsh Government for them to have their meetings via VC. It would
       save us all time and hassle and allow additional attendees. Regional hubs could also be
       explored. Cardiff, Swansea, etc... Please!”

       “Encouraging national organisations to undertake meeting using video conferencing e.g.
       HEFCW, WAG, HEA, QAA, RCUK. Do we really need to be sending the VC, PVCs and other senior
       and middle management across the UK for meetings that could take place virtually!”

There were also many comments about the scope for greater use of virtual meeting technologies in
teaching and learning:

       “I would see more opportunities for collective reflection on teaching and learning practices,
       and sharing of useful resources and how they can be used to best effect. A one-hour session
       takes no travel time, and is therefore more likely to be possible to fit into a busy academic's
       schedule. I also see opportunities for more conferences to be held online and therefore

                                                   34
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

       considerably reduce travel time, cost and stress whilst achieving the same sharing of ideas and
       meeting people (if the software and structure of the conference is designed to allow space for
       networking as well as 'presentation' and discussion).”

       “One-to-one academic/student meetings for both 'normal' campus-based students, and
       especially work-based students who have difficulty in travelling to the University. There is also
       opportunity to replace face-to-face smaller staff meetings with group video conferencing
       (which ideally can be used at individuals' own desk).”

       “To offer a broader range of Part-time Degree subjects in the community - in the daytime and
       increased use in the evenings. We currently offer the Part-time Degree in venues in [name
       deleted] and students attend video-conference classes at [name deleted]. We tend however to
       rely on this form of delivery for teaching and do not have any meetings with colleagues via this
       method. Such meetings are always face-to-face, but I am sure we could explore the use of this
       technology to replace face-to-face meetings.”

The scope for using virtual meetings to avoid travel to and/or ‘amplify’ the impacts of academic
conferences and workshops was also highlighted:

       “Travel to many short international meetings could be avoided through videoconferencing.
       With appropriate facilities, there is also the opportunity to be a virtual participant in
       international conferences.”

       “I feel that all conferences and training should be set up to allow people the choice of virtual
       attendance - there are times that this is second best because of the lack of networking
       opportunity but second best is better than not attending. It also enables attendance where
       your interest may be in just one or two sessions. A full day conference is too much in my view
       and it is important that virtual attendance is properly set up for those using it.”

Social and environmental benefits were also highlighted:

       “Virtual meetings may make it easier for staff to work at home, but still feel part of the team.
       Home-working could become more common (or requests to home-work could become more
       common) if fuel prices continue to escalate and over-crowding on trains is not tackled.”

       “I have made a personal choice not to use air travel. This could be a severe limitation to my
       career development if I aim to follow an academic career path (which is my intention). I do
       think that learning institutions should be leading the way in proving that quality conversations
       can happen using virtual technologies, therefore reducing air travel and environmental and
       economic costs to the University.”




                                                   35
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

We also received many comments on how additional usage might be achieved, and the barriers to
doing so. Whilst there were many favourable comments on use of videoconferencing suites, there
were also many highlighting opportunities for improvement, for example:

       “We have had a VC Suite since 2004 (but) still don't have the network infrastructure in place to
       allow IP VC calls, therefore we can only dial in to JVCS via ISDN. The call quality we receive
       through this has left us dropping out of several national meetings and we frequently fail quality
       testing.“

       “The facility is good but the charge for using it is excessive. If the university is serious about
       reducing CO2 emissions it should provide the service for free (a nominal fee costs more to
       administer than the fee).”

       “On the whole experience is good, but on several occasions the rooms have not been unlocked
       for us, and it has been impossible to find someone to open the room. Other occasions the link
       has been booked but does not seem to have been tested before our use. This has resulted in
       aborted lectures. For students who only attend one day per week this is unacceptable. When it
       works it is great!”

One issue that was highlighted consistently throughout the surveys was the enthusiasm for desktop
technologies, and in particular Skype. This is likely due to the ease of use, the fact it is free and the
fact that many people will be familiar with the technology through personal use. Some comments
were:

       “I usually use Skype or similar at my desktop to work with collaborators in the US. I have been
       told by the IT staff that due to restrictive proxy settings, I seem to be unable to do this
       wirelessly and must be hardwired into the university network for this to work. This is extremely
       restrictive, as it constrains me to sit in a particular place in my office, which is difficult for
       certain aspects of my research. (It should be noted that when I travel to other universities or
       work at home I have never had this problem and have always been able to use Skype, Ichat, or
       similar when working wirelessly literally anywhere but at [name deleted]) Further, the one time
       I attempted to use the video conferencing suite despite our IT staff doing trial runs, we were
       unable to communicate with the other institution and I ended up having to use Skype.”

       “Free software like Skype can sometimes be better to use than something like Adobe Connect
       when the functionality required is minimal. This should be accepted and encouraged.”

However some respondents commented that their university didn’t support its use:

       “It would help if I could actually use Skype in the university, rather than having to arrange my
       meetings when I am at home i.e. evenings and weekends... I can only access it if I bring my
       personal laptop to work and get on wireless. Some of my colleagues have Skype installed on
       the computers, but I have not been provided with this.”


                                                     36
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


Other implications also need to be considered:

       “I use Skype in my personal life to keep in touch with family all over the world. I have also
       heard that students use Skype and various other networking sites to keep in touch with each
       other so I guess there lies a potential method to enable tutorial support …. I know that another
       local University uses Skype for tutorial support. Of course if we are going to take this forward
       staff and students would need to have access to the appropriate equipment – webcams,
       headsets etc. There is one thing to consider though how these tutorials would be documented.
       At present a contact sheet is completed and signed by the student and lecturer - this may be
       something to consider.”

Many respondents also commented that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and that use needs to
be matched to requirements. This is in turn requires an institutional and sector capacity to support
and foster use of multiple technologies:

       “There is no one solution, and a variety of options should be available: It's really difficult to
       operate a Skype or virtual meeting if you are located in an open plan office so some small
       meeting rooms would be useful. We need a university solution which reduces complexity and
       operates on a single sign on principal rather than the Internet based solutions which while they
       are free does require the user to create usernames and passwords. This is not a corporate
       solution.”

       “Research has shown that first meetings should happen in person after that the form of
       meeting teleconference/video etc makes little difference to the quality of the meeting. QoE can
       have a large impact on the system in use, ideally you want a system that isn't obvious that it is
       there. Skype is good for low number of participants where social floor control can take place
       (requires lowish RTT) but once you increase the number of participants then you need a stricter
       floor control mechanism - Flashmeetings method works quite well. Both of these systems
       require very little configuration whereas ones based on H.323 or SIP have a large admin
       overhead and generally end up being hard to use. There is not a one size fits all solution and
       the obviously technically best solution is wrong in this case. For most uses phones are fine.”

       “The most crucial point in virtual meeting solutions is availability. I only use virtual meetings
       when I can't go myself, and it only works if the same solutions are used at the locations where
       my colleagues reside. This basically excludes any expensive hardware/software solutions, as
       the selected solutions may be different from place to place. I would strongly suggest use of
       open standards, where as broad as possible software-hardware solutions can be used (across
       operating systems too: windows/mac/linux). To be precise, Skype, which I also use, is not open,
       but available across operating systems, so that is a viable solution.”

Finally, the technologies must obviously be applied in suitable areas:



                                                   37
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

       “My main experience has been participating in video conferencing in conferences. I think it is a
       useful tool to use in a conference, but its need to be used in collaboration with guest speakers,
       otherwise the audience may lose interest looking at a virtual video for the whole of a
       conference.”

        “Virtual meetings work well for progressing projects. They're not so great when you don't
       know people initially and / or where you really need to brainstorm and debate.”

6.2 Barriers to Greater Use of Virtual Meetings
We asked respondents who had not recently participated in a virtual meeting whether they had
actually considered doing so. Table 29 shows that many had, with a range of 7% to 41% and an overall
average of 28%. We therefore asked this small group why they had not pursued this interest further.
As Table 30 shows, the main reason was difficulties (perceived or actual) of setting one up (responses
ranged from 0 to 38% with an overall average of 22%) followed by concerns about whether it would
work technically (overall average 11%).

Specific reasons cited for not using virtual meetings include:

      Lack of confidence or ability to use technology;
      Lack of equipment or facilities;
      Lack of support from colleagues;
      Time differences for meetings overseas;
      Someone else organized the meeting;
      Network cabling in the building not up to standard;
      Possible to use email or teleconferencing instead;
      Didn’t want to disturb others in open plan office; and
      Lack of knowledge about the facilities/technology and where and how to book it

The comments by non-users on what would encourage them to use virtual meetings more include:

       “My role is to develop international relations for the Faculty in order to further boost our
       recruitment in this area. It would be very cost effective to e-communicate with international
       colleagues (video conferencing for instance when looking into partnerships), as well as
       promote our programmes to our international partners' students via e-conferencing and e-
       lecturing. Another aspect of my work is the use of Guest Speakers in my lectures. Some of my
       colleagues abroad would like to contribute to our courses as they have specific expertise in
       some fields, and companies might be more willing to present to our students without having to
       leave the office nor travel long and costly distances.”

       “If the meetings I attend were offered virtually I would definitely attend - I wouldn't need
       encouragement. I think they're a really good idea. Other colleagues have used a 'phone pod' so
       all can contribute to virtual meetings but this needs to be improved as those sitting further
       from the receiver could not be heard.”


                                                   38
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys


       “Proper meeting rooms with guaranteed, working facilities and an expert to call on if things go
       wrong. A 'culture' of virtual working and virtual meetings so it happened normally without a lot
       of coercion.”

       “Simpler booking system. I have booked virtual meetings for my boss, and the technical emails
       I received confirming connections etc seemed complicated.“

A general point made by a number of respondents was the need for more institutional level
encouragement and support, both policy and technical:

       “Although as an academic I should be able to work in a way that best suits me (and because I
       often have off-site commitments), Heads of School often demand physical presence when it is
       not warranted, sometimes incurring extra travel or resulting in exclusion of participation and
       commensurate recriminations. I have seen a number of staff members affected by this
       (especially those with family situations) and increasing awareness and use of technology by
       senior staff would be beneficial in these instances.”

       “Clear technology adopted by the University in an integrated way. I have actively sought to
       develop this resource within my subject, with the IT/AV department but there is not centralised
       decision on programmes and set up. I want to use virtual conferencing to bring my online
       teaching into this century (vs the use of text based chatting)!!!”

       “More university encouragement to use them. More advertising of which rooms can be used.
       More education on how to use the equipment. Better willingness from both parties.”

       “Standardised software, training and cascaded usage via management.”

One frequent topic for comment was better information and effective training:

       “I have never received any information or instruction on what is available at the University in
       terms of virtual meeting facilities, and it would be very helpful to know more. It is likely that my
       role will require me to make visits off-campus more often in future, and I feel that many of
       these visits could feasibly be replaced by conference calling, Skype or other facilities, which
       would save both time and money. More information about what is available would make me
       more inclined to explore these facilities.”

       “More information and finding out what facilities we have and where they are.”

       “A chance to participate in a mock meeting - how to set up, protocol etc. I collaborate with
       other Universities and there is a move towards virtual meetings which I would like to
       participate in (but am never quite sure how to set it up and what to do).”



                                                   39
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

       “Reliable and readily available technical support - not initial training then users left to sink or
       swim.”

Another was easier availability of technology, especially at the desktop:

       “Easier availability of technology, with 'how-to' advice for those organising them (such as
       me).”

       “Having the technology available. In my previous job, we used to have a conference phone with
       a special phone number so people could sign in to the call, sometimes as many as 200 people.”

       “Availability of facilities, e.g. may frequently be beneficial to speak to prospective students or
       agents overseas using Skype. Lack of webcam, microphone etc. prohibits this.”

       “Embed software more relevantly into the work space. Make sure that webcams and
       microphones are available on the majority of workstations to ensure that it's being used
       correctly. I have Skype pre-installed, but no real way of accessing it, as I don't have a webcam
       or microphone here. The phone systems don't allow conference calls particularly easily either.”

This could involve developing a simpler facility than a fully configured videoconferencing suite:

       “Suitable technology provided by the university, a quiet place - not a shared office - to operate
       it, and an acknowledgment that if this kind of technology is to be used then there is a time
       factor involved which must be reflected in timetabled hours. Virtual meetings are part-of, not
       an add-on.”

       “A place to go (even something like a language lab cubicle) instead of sitting in a large shared
       office feeling distracted and distracting (our office is usually almost silent).”

       “This kind of meeting requires a room where the meeting can be held away from your regular
       desk in the relative privacy a meeting room would normally afford. Skype "chambers" for one-
       to-one meetings perhaps?”

In institutions which don’t yet have it (many do) a central booking system for venues and facilities
could also be useful:

       “At present it is up to our department to organise and we don't have the time or technical
       expertise to set it up ourselves at present. Though if we could book a resource or get some help
       in setting up, we would probably use it frequently.”

Finally, the technology obviously needs to work:




                                                    40
       Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

“Easier use and access to the facilities needed to do this and confidence that they will work
when I need them to.”

“Better teleconference capable phones at desks (mine is terrible and an older model than
others), better information of teleconference from telephone services (and support, not just a
rental of a phone when we think we may need it).”




                                           41
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 27: Scope To Replace The Meetings Currently Attended With Virtual Equivalents In Future (as % other than 2nd row)
                         Aber     Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds            MMU Staffs          Swansea UCLAN        Average
                                                                                                                        All Unis
No. of respondents       31       151        59          269         148       54        101       80         87        109
Considerable further     26       25         32          22          31        48        29        29         21        29
opportunities to
replace my meetings
Some further             26       61         56          59          52        41        56        54         60        52
opportunities to
replace my meetings
No further scope to      48       13         7           15          14        9         9         9          15        15
reduce my meetings
Conferencing has         0        0          0           0           0         0         1         3          0         0
replaced to many of
my meetings and
should be used less
Do not know              0        1          5           5           3         2         5         6          5         4

Table 28:Whether Respondents Who Had Not Participated in a Virtual Meeting Would be Interested in Making Greater Use if They
Were Easier To Access and Use (as % other than 2nd row)
                        Aber       Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds        MMU Staffs          Swansea UCLAN         Average
                                                                                                                      All Unis
No. of respondents      31         51         35        198         74      97       45         13        80          69
Yes                     26         49         60        40          39      55       51         31        59          46
No                      26         8          20        21          11      12       11         8         5           14
Maybe                   48         37         17        33          43      28       36         54        34          37
Do not know             0          6          3         6           7       5        2          8         3           4




                                                                42
                               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 29: Whether Respondents Who Had Not Participated In A Virtual Meeting in 2010/2011 Had Considered Doing So? (as % other
than 2nd row)
                       Aber     Bangor     Bradford Glasgow Leeds             MMU Staffs       Swansea UCLAN          Average
                                                                                                                      All Unis
No. respondents        35       52         44          226          82        99      46       15         83          76
Yes                    29       17         30          27           31        29      41       20         28          28
No                     57       75         64          68           67        64      57       80         64          66
Do not know            14       8          7           6            2         7       2        0          8           6




                                                                43
                                   Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

Table 30: Reasons for Not Participating In A Virtual Meeting (as % other than 2nd row)
                            Aber      Bangor     Bradford     Glasgow     Leeds MMU         Staffs   Swansea   UCLAN   Average
                                                                                                                       All Unis
No. of respondents            10       9         11           51          24       29       19       1         20      19
Concern about whether it      10       11        27           8           4        17       11       0         15      11
would work technically
Concern about whether it      10       0         9            6           17       7        16       0         10      8
would be an effective
meeting
Losing networking &           10       22        0            6           17       3        0        0         15      8
social opportunities
connected to the meeting
Cost                          0        0         0            0           4        0        0        0         5       1
Difficulties (actual or       0        22        36           26          29       38       37       0         10      22
perceived) in setting it up
Don't know enough about       0        11        0            14          8        10       5        0         20      8
the technology to be
comfortable
Don't like being on           0        0         0            0           0        0        0        0         0       0
camera
Enjoy time away from the      0        0         0            0           0        3        0        0         0       0
office
Needed to travel to a         20       11        9            2           4        0        5        0         0       6
meeting location anyway
Other                         50       22        18           39          17       21       26       100       25      35




                                                                    44
               Conferencing and Virtual Meetings in UK FHE – Results of User Surveys

7. Conclusions

The survey results confirm the findings of previous studies in other sectors that virtual meeting
technologies can provide many economic, social and personal benefits for universities and their staff.
Most virtual meetings achieve their objectives, sometimes in more effective ways than is possible
with face-to-face meetings. They also produce many benefits including:

      Freeing employee time for both work and personal uses, with benefits to performance and
       work-life balance;

      Enabling inclusion and participation for people who would otherwise be unable to travel; and

      Reducing travel and subsistence costs, and associated greenhouse gas emissions (although
       the environmental case for virtual meetings is very focused on avoiding air travel whereas the
       business case is more focused on avoiding national and local journeys, which are much more
       frequent and (at peak periods) expensive per mile and are generally easier to replace).

Of course, there will always be an important place for face-to-face interaction and there are also
some downsides to virtual meetings. They have to be managed well to succeed, and their numbers
can rise beyond useful levels as they become easier to set up. Some people with disabilities can find it
difficult to be involved. Also, some greenhouse gas avoidance – 10% is our assumption - must be
discounted because of network energy consumption and rebound effects. However, none of these
caveats detract from the evidence that virtual meetings are generally good for universities.

The surveys also reveal great potential to further increase take-up, both amongst current ‘users’, and
those who are not using them. However, they also identify many barriers and more effort will be
needed to overcome them. Specific measures at institutional level that would overcome the barriers
mentioned by respondents include easier access and reservation of facilities, more technology
“champions”, better technical support and training, institution-wide policies and support frameworks,
and adoption and encouragement by senior staff to embed a culture of usage. More broadly, there
would seem to be a case for making virtual meetings less closely associated with the AV/IT function.
Effective technical support will always be important, of course, but the need is to move from the
current ‘provide and they should use’ approach to one that is more user-focused and marketing-led.
This would then make it easier to provide what many users appear to be seeking, which is help with a
wide range of technologies, reflecting the diversity of use in practice and recognizing that
technologies such as audio and Skype can work well for simple purposes.

Finally, the surveys demonstrate the value of a better understanding of current virtual meeting
patterns in order to identify opportunities and barriers, and to provide data to support business and
environmental cases. This can also highlight examples of successful usage that could be extended, and
identify potential champions who could encourage others. Achieving this could finally create the
tipping point at which virtual meetings become a routine option for many activities, and universities
and colleges improve their performance and minimise their costs and environmental impacts as a
consequence.


                                                   45

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:5
posted:5/16/2012
language:
pages:45