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Presentation of the PAD Methodology

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PAD (Participation at a Distance) deals with allowing remotely located persons to regroup in a limited number of sites and participate in a conference being held in a different location. The operation scheme that allows persons to participate in a conference at a distance has been des igned as follows:


Each parallel discussion hall of the conference has a computer workstation and a printer connected to the local net towards a central hall. In the central hall there is a computer server with an internet connection and fax service. Each city offering participation at a distance has a computer workstation connected to the internet, a printer and a fax.


Each conference discussion hall has a person entering a synthesis of what is being discussed, live. There is another person responsible to enter comments and questions originating in distant places. The central discussion hall has personnel for coordina tion and a person responsible for translations supported by translation software and translators. In the remote discussion halls, there is a person responsible for links used to channel comments. All documents relative to the conference have free access via the World Wide Web.


During the conference, the person reporting the synthesis issues reports at frequent intervals. These are processed by translators and resent immediately to remote discussion halls via electronic mail (or fax if no installations for remote electronic ma il exist). Remote participants have discussions based on the synthesis and express their questions and comments that are also summarized and issued by the coordinator. Upon reception these are provided to the personnel responsible in the conference room , who decide and determine the appropriate moment to proceed to retro-action in reference to the participants. All exchanges of information and the synthesis are discussed and included in the minutes of the meeting.


This methodology has certain requirements in terms of: physical resources: one PC per discussion hall, local network with PC server, Internet connection and fax, translation program. human resources; a person for remote discussion rooms, 3 persons for the control center (translator, dispatcher, coordinator)


Experimenting with this valuable methodology allowed the discovery of certain weaknesses or limitations that could be improved during the next experiment:

  • reports put into circulation must be as summarized as possible in order to be usable,
  • when the person typing in the synthesis receives the information via direct translation in the conference room, it may cause comprehension difficulties and deformity,
  • there is a lack of codification in order to transmit emotional information (laughter, tension, etc.),
  • coordination conflicts exist between the person moderating the discussion in the discussion room and the person who must express the retro-action o those participating at a distance,
  • discussion times do not easily correspond between the moment of synthesis and the moment of retro-action..
  • unless the entire procedure is integrated to the design of the conference, there is high risk of lack of coordination.

A structuring mechanism needs to be created and retro-actions must be limited to points of a global vision.

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