The Earth is no longer round!?

It revolves after all” said Galileo Galilei in the 17th century, when he scientifically proved that the Earth is round. However, with the process of globalization and technology advancement Galileo’s finding in no longer a sufficient indicator of the way we perceive the World. Therefore, Thomas L. Friedman (The World is Flat) metaphorically explains in his bestseller that the world is flat. With the process of globalization and technology advancement the perception of the world alters with regards to international trading and competition. In theory, nowadays everybody who has Internet access has the opportunity to be competitive in the international market. That creates the global market in which the geographical position no longer has a significant importance; due to the stated changes there is a need of educating the future generations accordingly.

Festival of innovation and creativity (ImagineRIT)

On Saturday, May 3, 2008, Rochester Institute of Technology will host the Festival of Innovation and Creativity, where innovative and creative educational solutions will be introduced. Considering the fact that the American College of Management and Technology from Dubrovnik (ACMT) is a part of RIT, ACMT students, along with RIT students, will represent a project of using the Adobe Connect Software in order to share their knowledge through video and audio conference. “Although we are on different continents, with the help of technology we could have communicated with RIT students just as good as they were present in our class. That is fascinating.” – says Antonio Grizelj, ACMT Senior year student.

What have the students learned?

There are various kinds of software to establish international conferences and al of them have their advantages and flaws. “While using Adobe Connect, we have had some difficulties in the beginning in terms of establishing sound connection, so we used the Skype as an alternative.”, stated Darijo Tavri?, ACMT Senior year student. “However, that wasn’t san ideal solution because Skype took over the visual part of connection after a while, and we have had to use Adobe Connect because that’s what we have had the license for.” – added Ed Steffans, Leadership class professor at RIT.

Steffans continued: “Due to difficulties such as loosing sound and visual, we have engaged the WGBH Public TV in Boston to support the conference with titles of text that was said. Not only did we have sound and visual support, but we also brought this concept to a higher level. We have enabled the participation of hearing impaired students in this project, which is significant to us, considering the fact that we have a lot of specialized programs for hearing impaired students at RIT.”

The biggest problems in establishing an international conference occurred with technical details. For instance, it is necessary to be exactly in front of the camera, one must not stand too far from the camera ad from the microphone, one must look directly at the camera, there always has to be a contingency plan for the technology that is used, occasionally the sound and visual get lost, etc. Nevertheless, while preparing for the project, student have also encountered problems involving human factor, or to be more specific, cultural differences.

“We could have used another software and I think the technical difficulties would still be the same, but the factor of cultural differences is the most important. For instance, our students at ACMT work on weekends, while student at RIT don’t. And off course, students from Croatia will wonder why RIT students are not responding. In order to make the conference function, the details have to be set well in advance. That is something one cannot assume if one hasn’t been introduced to the studying habits of RIT students, or vice versa. The communication is complex by its definition, this way cultural differences present another challenge, as well as technology for which you always have to have a backup plan,” says Gladys Winkworth, Academic Chair at ACMT.

According to two-year student research, corporative companies and small entrepreneurs in Croatia most frequently use e-mail for international communication; use of Skype conference software is in increasing trend as well; followed by the use of phone. Moreover, the postal services are still present according to administrative demands for original documents. On the other hand, audio and video conferencing software like Adobe Connect is used in very rare cases. Considering the fact that it is important to have more senses stimulated in order to have better and more qualitative communication with a person, this reflects the communication process of establishing a successful international conference. Saying all this, even though the Earth is still round, the globalization process and technology advancement enables us to hear, see and do business with a person who is at the other end of the World with only an Internet connection, one look at the camera and a click of a mouse.

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