eDefence at Memorial
The School of Graduate Studies is committed to maximizing all available resources to meet the needs of Memorial's graduate students. To this end, we have implemented a system to allow external examiners to attend a PhD oral defence remotely from anywhere in the world.
For less than half the cost of one examiner coming to St. John's, we can now virtually host all of our oral defences for an entire year.
The use of web-conferencing software, webcams and teleconferencing allow external examiners (and in some cases committee members) to actively participate remotely without impacting the traditional process of an oral defence.
1. Greatly increased pool of eligible external examiners. No longer will the external examiner's physical location be a consideration in their appointment, but rather his/her expertise will be the key factor.
2. Travel delays/disruptions will no longer cause oral defence postponements.
3. Greater flexibility in scheduling defences – external examiners now only need to commit to several hours of their time as opposed to several days.
4. Component of the School’s green initiative (http://www.mun.ca/sgs/green/) – the carbon footprint for external examiners is completely eliminated.
5. A greatly increasing doctoral student population equals greatly increasing costs of flying in examiners. Not only does that mean that funds currently must be re-allocated from other areas, but these funds can and should be put to much better use elsewhere in graduate education, e.g. graduate student conference travel.
6. Elimination of a significant amount of paperwork for departments since they will no longer have to co-ordinate travel arrangements and costs.
External examiners are streamed into the examination room via their own webcams; students and the examination board are streamed to the external examiners via SGS webcams (see diagram below). Software presentations, e.g. PowerPoint, are streamed via internet to the external examiners and via data projection to all those physically present at the defence.
Beatrice Watts Boardroom (IIC 2014)
The School is using Adobe Connect™ (http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html) cloud-based software to run the video aspect of eDefences. Software presentations, e.g. PowerPoint, are streamed via the Adobe software to the external examiners and via data projection to all those physically present at the defence. Due to Adobe's built-in redundancy, we are able to offer stable and secure eDefences. Students do not have to worry about having to temporarily halt their defence due to examiners being disconnected and waiting until they re-connect! Since the software is based on Adobe Flash, there is no additional software for examiners to install, and the interface is truly user-friendly. Audio will be delivered via teleconferencing to avoid the "choppiness" of VoIP.