Video conferencing has become a staple of many businesses in recent years, allowing companies to meet together and share ideas in a matter of minutes, saving them time and money in travel into the bargain. The technology has proved so versatile, that now the education sector has been trying it out in the classroom.
But what can you do with technology meant for the business room in the classroom? Does it really have a place in technology? You would be surprised at just how useful it is for teachers and students alike. Check out the various uses of video conferencing below, and see just how your students can use it to enhance their learning.
- Go on a virtual field trip: While fun and hugely beneficial to students, sometimes it just isn't feasible to take your class on a field trip. With time restraints, money concerns, and staffing issues, there just isn't any way to take the students to your local museum or place of interest. However, not all is lost, as they trip can come to you. Video conferencing also means that distance isn't an issue, so you can take the class on a trip somewhere thousands of miles away, just with the push of a button.
- Talk to experts around the world: When you're studying the people of Ancient Greece or the life cycle of a frog, it can feel as though there are limitations to your knowledge. You may not be able to bring an expert in the subject into your classroom physically, but you certainly can with video conferencing. For example, Mashable describes how one class, struggling with their writing skills, took part in a seminar about narrative writing online and came away excited about what they could do next.
- Collaborate with other schools: In past years, your class may have worked with a different class in your school on a project, or maybe another school in your local area. Video conferencing makes it possible to collaborate with schools all over the country, or even further afield. Lifesize shows how conferencing can help you reach other children all over the globe, and allow your class to put a face to other cultures that otherwise that they wouldn't have been able to, otherwise.
- Expand access to education to rural areas: Most students can take their access to education for granted, but some struggle to learn due to their distance from a school, and other obligations that make learning take a backseat. Video conferencing means that they can attend school from home, fulfilling their right to an education, and allowing them to attend any field trips or other special events that the class may attend.
- Record classes: You hope that none of your students will miss school, but sometimes it's unavoidable due to illness or other complications. If a student is living with a long term illness, they can miss out on a large amount of schooling, which can seriously affect their education. Video conferencing technology allows teachers to record their lessons and send the videos to their absent students. The student doesn't miss out on anything, and you have a record of your classes that can be useful for evaluation purposes.
- Create study groups: If students are given access to the technology, it can be used for all kinds of purposes. When putting together study groups, conferencing can be used to allow the group to meet up remotely. This is great if all of your students live distantly from each other, as it allows them to meet instantly from the comfort of their own homes.
- Remote parent/teacher conferences: It can be difficult to get parents into the school for parent teacher conferences, with modern work schedules being so demanding and often unpredictable. Video conferencing allows you to meet up with your student's parents wherever they are, keeping them in the loop without pulling them away from their job.
- Integration with existing classroom technology: How Stuff Works explains how video conferencing can be used with technology already in your classroom. Interactive whiteboards mean that you can pull up the conferencing application to show the whole class, useful if you're talking to an expert or want the whole class to see something on a virtual tour. If there are laptops in your classroom, students can use them individually to talk to their peers. There's a whole raft of ways that students can use their technology to get involved.
As you can see, there's a huge range of ways that video conferencing solutions can enhance your students' learning experience. With many companies, such as Blue Jeans, offering their services, you can choose the best service for your school and get started quickly. Why not try the technology for yourself and see what it can do for your classroom?