- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 18, 2003 

Enhancing the Distance of "Distance Learning": AUA students develop breakthrough software

Sargsyan led a team that created new software.Students at the American University of Armenia have developed a software that should enhance the capabilities of videoconferencing.

Led by computer and information science master's student Gohar Sargsyan, the three graduate students worked on a project called "Video Distance Learning". Through it, they created a means whereby a camera in a classroom in one place can be controlled via Internet link by operators in another, giving more capabilities to "virtual education".

"During videoconferences cameras do not move," says second-year student Gohar. "The technical task we set is that the camera located in one country can understand instructions given from another country."

In other words, students in London or wherever could manipulate the view of the classroom they get from a virtual lecture in Yerevan.

The students were assigned the task as part of their Software Project Management studies, led by American-Armenian specialist Sarkis Zartarian before he returned to the United States to his own laboratory.

"When the lecturer was setting different tasks, this one at once caught my fancy, and I said I would solve that one," Gohar says. "But another group of students insisted that they wanted that project. It came to the point that the lecturer had to conduct a lottery."

The students proudly say that the professor was so satisfied with the solution of the problem that he invited a special meeting in the university to report about the excellent work of the students.

Availability of such a production in universities could make solving a number of problems easier. According to its creators, the software will not cost much, will provide high sight and voice quality and will work even in case of bad Internet connection.

The remote-control capabilities will also offer more interaction among the virtual professor and students.

Sargsyan says the software will enhance videoconferencing capabilities."The distance learning instructor can see different segments of the audience by moving his camera, as well as move in and out any image of the segment," Gohar says. Arrows on the open window of a computer monitor offer movement in four directions.

A significant element of the project is that the software is designed for use by slow Internet connections.

"As far as Internet connection in Armenia is in general in a very poor condition, we are trying to adjust this production to even bad conditions," Gohar says, adding that the connection in Armenia is three times worse than what is normally considered poor by international standards.

"We have created this project for Armenia, and this is the reason why we have to make it on the level which will be suitable for the standards here," she says.

Several countries have expressed interests in the new product, which can be used not only in educational institutions, but also in the state agencies, international and public organizations.

And the student project proved a career boost, too, as Armenian Development Gateway (Electronic Armenia Foundation) Association made a job offer to Gohar Sargsyan, to be dealing with distant learning pilot projects.


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  Photo of the week
  Spring Rites
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Spring Rites

April 13 was "Tsaghkazard", known in other places as Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, marking the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. Here, part of the commemoration includes making wreaths from branches which are worn by young people and then placed in homes. The day is also the seventh Sunday of the Great Fast, as observed among the Armenian Apostolic Church.



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