In recent years, web conferencing has become more and more popular as well within business for cross border meetings as for students for divergent reasons. Nevertheless, web conferencing is not yet general accepted as a substitute for face-to-face meetings. There are a lot of reasons why face-to-face is still the most common way to meet, one of the reasons could be that students have the idea that meeting physically helps them to get better results for their group work. In this study the effect of substituting physical meetings by web conferencing on group work results among students will be investigated.
Therefore, an ever increasing number of students use web conferencing for their academic group work if they are not able to meet physically. Maastricht University is very well known for its “Problem-Based Learning system” also known as PBL. A main part of PBL is that the students have to perform different tasks within a fixed group. The tasks students need to prepare within groups demand a lot of negotiation and collaboration. Thereby, the group members need to meet either physically or collaborate 3 by using web conferencing.
As mentioned, it is not always possible for students at Maastricht University to meet physically because of the high number of students from different nationalities that, for example, do not stay the weekends in Maastricht. Moreover, each student has his own academic and personal schedule which makes physically group meetings very challenging. Web conferencing is a new opportunity that can help students to overcome the challenges of meeting physically. Students do not need to be at the same place and can meet from any location that is most convenient to their personal schedule.
Maastricht University is always interested in new trends, innovation, improvements and development. As well they want to ensure and attain high quality of group work results, especially within the PBL system. To generate these results, Maastricht University has to consider if more space for group meetings or new working places providing web conferencing services should be created. To give answer to the question above, Maastricht University wants to know if web conferencing is the best way or has at least a positive effect on the quality of group work result; especially in times where the use of web conferencing is growing exceptionally.