Judith A. Moldenhauer
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The concept and use of the synchronous and asynchronous forms of virtual conferencing is central to the experience of global design education. Easy and ready access to people and information worldwide is at the heart of a paradigm shift in design practice and education, defined by collaboration and digital technology. The dream of smooth, global interaction via virtual conferencing rests on the concept of presence, namely, the ability for people to feel as though there are no barriers to their communication. The reality, however, is to encounter such things as dropped video or audio signals, rastered images and e-mail attachments that will not open because the sender and receiver have different versions of a software application. This paper explores the dissonance between the dreams and realities of virtual conferencing in global design education by discussing the idea of presence, examining the relationship between virtual conferencing and contemporary design practice and education, presenting the virtual conferencing experiences of three international student projects and addressing what we still need to know in order to best use such technology within the context of global design education. The paper concludes with comments about providing students with valuable international design experiences.