Video-mediated communication in the classroom to support sick children: A case study

Deborah I. Fels, Patrice L. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Video mediated communication is a valuable educational resource because it provides access to otherwise unreachable learning materials, it motivates students, and helps them improve their communication skills. Over the last four years we have developed a unique application of video mediated communication known as Wayne Gretzky's Providing Education By Bringing Learning Environments to Students (PEBBLES). This is a video-mediated communication system that has been designed to link a child in the hospital with his/her regular classroom. Analysis of video tape data from a six-week case study documenting the frequency of interactions and usage behaviors indicates that the student was able to spend most of her in-class time focussing on the academic tasks assigned to the class despite some technical difficulties and distractions in her local environment. Audio difficulties persisted throughout the study and must be improved in future design iterations of the system. Relevance to industry: Successful use of videoconferencing in the classroom has not been well documented. A communication system that combines videoconferencing technologies and a physical avatar has been designed for use by sick children to attend school. An evaluation methodology and a case study presenting the results are beneficial to learning technology industries and users as well as videoconferencing industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-263
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank The Bay, Wayne Gretzky, The Canadian Gift and Tableware Association, CANARIE, The Ontario Ministry of Education and Training (TIPPS II), The Royal Bank of Canada, NSERC grant # OGP0184220, the Ontario Provincial and Demonstration Schools, Human Resources Development Canada, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Telbotics Inc and The University of Toronto. We also would like to acknowledge the McCaul Street School, The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children and J.S. Woodsworth Senior Public School (grade 7 class) for their participation in the PEBBLES project.


  • Children
  • Observational study
  • Tele-learning
  • Tele-presence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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