International engineering experts may soon find themselves lecturing at Australian, British and Thai universities - all at the same time.
State-of-the-art technology is being used to link the engineering department at the University of New South Wales in Sydney with its counterparts in Imperial College in London and Mahanakorn University in Bangkok.
The new virtual classrooms will enable students at all three universities to attend a lecture given at one of the three locations at the same time, and to interact with one another and the lecturer via high-speed satellite links and audio, video and desktop conferencing facilities.
The new links, which are due to be operational by summer, will enable the lecturer to see not just those attending the lecture wherever he or she is, but also those in the virtual classrooms elsewhere in the world.
It is hoped that the project will allow students to interact directly with others across the world other in real time.
"This project seeks to make the well-established educational benefits of small-class lectures delivered by an internationally recognised expert available to a wider international audience," said Branko Celler, head of the school of electrical engineering and telecommunications at UNSW.