Ways to Use Video Conferencing in the Classroom
Video conferencing is a wonderful technology that has helped change the way both business and personal communication is conducted. It not only provides a more personal, intimate way to communicate compared to a phone call but thanks to additional services like document sharing and multipoint capabilities, the technology is by far the most effective and productive way to conduct important meetings outside of actually being face-to-face. But it's effectiveness is so close to what a face-to-face meeting can give that it completely negates the need to travel to any sort of in-person meeting. Video conferencing isn’t just a useful tool for businesses and personal use, it’s also a wonderful tool teacher can use to enhance a student’s learning experience in the classroom, whether that classroom is in an elementary school, middle school, high school, or university.
Collaboration and Expanding Reach
One of the most significant benefits video conferencing can bring to the classroom is in how it opens the door to collaboration with other schools, both domestically and internationally. As a prime example, take any sort of second language class. It’s well known that to best learn a second language, a student needs to practice it by speaking it. Trying to discuss with other students in the same class can work, but it won’t be nearly as effective as learning via talking to native speakers. If a school teaching French classes can connect its students with native French speakers in France, then the learning experience for those students can be drastically improved.
But enhancing current second language classes isn’t the only language based benefit to video conferencing. According to Inside Higher ED, Yale University, Columbia University, and Cornell University worked together with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to revive dying language programs for languages like Yoruba, Zulu, and Indonesian. This is also greatly expanding the reach of their classrooms and students, creating an environment that fosters distance learning.
Keeping in Contact Regardless of Distance
While improving language programs is definitely a good thing, it isn’t the only way video conferencing can be used for distance learning in the classroom. While this next benefit may be aimed for at university level classes, it can come in handy in high schools as well. ULoop discusses how video conferencing can be used by teachers to schedule meetings with their students in a much more effective fashion. Outside of the actual class time, teachers and students might have difficulty getting in contact with one another. But if video conferencing is used to plan out a meeting, everyone can attend the meeting no matter where they are, even if a party has gone miles away for some reason or other, video conferencing allows them to stay in contact. And if the school or teacher offers it, long-distance students can still attend classes through video conferencing. In fact, this is an idea that Indiana University has already implemented in over 175 virtual courses. AV Network reports that, by using a video conferencing Auditorium service, the university has opened the doors to a much wider range of students to learn and attend courses, even if they are thousands of miles away in another country.
Using video conferencing services like Blue Jeans Education is a great way to expand the reach of the classroom, both for bringing students from all over the globe into the classroom and for bringing more information to those students in the classroom.
Guest Lectures and Experts
While video conferencing can definitely help in opening the class to more students, it can also be used to bring more information into the classroom. Instead of going through the hassle of trying to bring a guest speaker to the school to talk to a class for an hour or so, which can be expensive and may be seen as a waste of the experts time, video conferencing can be used to instantly connect the students to the expert without the need for either to leave the classroom or office.
Using video conferencing to connect students to more experts is useful in more ways than just changing up the daily routine; Digital Journal reports that studies have found that students are more motivated to learn and work on their studies when they can see the actual connection between what they’re learning and the real world. Using video conferencing services like Blue Jeans or Skype to bring more experts into the classroom can help motivate students by letting them discuss the real world applications of their work with people who actually use that knowledge.
Everybody Loves Field Trips
What doesn't student love getting out of the classroom for a day to go on a field trip? However, while video conferencing won’t actually allow the student to leave the classroom, it can allow those students to embark on more field trips more often through digital tours of museums or other places. As a prime example of the unique field trips video conferencing can provide, Mashable reported on the Pennsylvania Mt. Lebanon School District, which used video conferencing to connect their middle school students with experts in the field on the Caribbean island of Montserrat while a volcano was erupting. The students were able to interact with the experts while watching a live feed of a volcano erupting and seeing information about seismic activity, evacuations, and other pertinent data.
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