UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Lane Ridenhour makes videoconferencing and sharing classes with other campuses easier

In December of 1994, Lane Ridenhour ‘77 got out of his sick bed, put a resume together and turned in a last-minute application for a position in UNCG’s then-fledgling video distance learning operation.

Lane currently directs the Telelearning Center, located in the bottom floor of Stone Building. The center’s primary function is to make UNCG classes available for sharing with other campuses in the system, and also to receive classes from other campuses. Other functions, like administrative videoconferencing, also take place there.

He says the job is “the culmination of what I wanted to do as a career.” As a UNCG undergraduate, he picked up engineering skills working at WUAG, the campus radio station. He graduated and went to work at WGGT TV, N.C. A&T State University, then to WFMY-TV for its News 2 Net online programming.

“It was a good path to pick up the experience I needed,” Lane said. “I learned where to put a camera, how to make a presentation look good, production experience, camera operation and some engineering. I was so lucky to find this job – there are very few opportunities like this out there.”

Lane started work in McNutt Building in 1995 when distance learning was in its early days and web-based instruction didn’t exist. The first client was Library and Information Studies, which offered graduate classes two nights a week. UNCG was the first UNC campus to offer graduate distance learning.

Those courses were shared with UNC Charlotte and UNC Asheville. It was unique because of the convenience. People in Charlotte or Asheville who couldn’t drive to campus could take the class on the other campuses and get the credit. The actual classes were at UNCG. Students at the other campuses could see the professors and the professors could see them.

Another use is administrative videoconferencing. As a member of the 17-campus UNC system, UNCG needs to receive instruction or get information on new regulations from UNC General Administration, state government and the legislature. “It saves time and gas mileage if our people don’t have to go to Chapel Hill; we can save them travel time,” Lane said. “The chancellor, provost, vice chancellors, deans can talk with colleagues.”

It’s not just for administrative use – faculty, staff and students can use it at no charge, as well.

There have been some special cases. A woman in the final month of her pregnancy needed to defend her graduate degree, but her doctor said she couldn’t travel to campus. She did her defense through the center, and it went off without a hitch. Numerous other defenses have taken place, including one where a faculty member was in Australia. “Today, you can’t always have all the members of a master’s or doctoral committee on campus all the time.”

Lane does give advice to people who are making presentations or conducting interviews. “I talk to them before the presentation or interview, to tell them the most effective way to ‘talk to the camera’ – sometimes they’ve never thought of it,” he said. “I let them know where they need to look and that the people are there to see them, how they look and act. And I tell anyone who is using PowerPoint, don’t read it word-for-word.”

By Steve Gilliam