A classroom with a videoconferencing system isn’t just a classroom.
The use of technology in the classroom is becoming more and more prevalent in the 21st century. Tablets are replacing textbooks. Smartphones allow for quick research. Audiobooks help students struggling to read and recall text. And lower-cost, easier-to-use and easier-to-access videoconferencing is impacting education profoundly.
Schools use videoconferencing in a number of different and creative ways. Knowledge that was once unattainable due to lack of access to physical campuses is now readily available via video, giving students the tools to enrich their education and succeed later in life. Below are several examples of how videoconferencing is enhancing the learning environment.
Enhance curriculum with videoconferencing field trips
When time or budget issues make physical travel outside the classroom impractical or impossible, videoconferencing saves the day. The Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas created a special videoconferencing field-trip program where cameras are placed on portable carts and zipped around the museum with ease, giving students the experience of a walking tour right from the classroom. Now 5,000 schools across Texas can visit the museum without having to leave town.
Bring experts to the classroom through videoconferencing
Inviting experts into the classroom is a great way to bring meaning to a lesson, but job requirements and busy schedules often exclude these experts from participating. Videoconferencing plays a key role in Westlake High School’s Business Incubator program, where entrepreneurs in the Austin, Texas community can connect with high school juniors and seniors to give them real-world perspectives on business concepts.
Over video, mentors can share their experience, advise on mock business plans and lead discussions when they’re not able to attend sessions face-to-face. Technical University of Munich connected robotics experts with engineering students for an in-depth, two-week workshop. Video conferencing created an opportunity for these two groups to interact in a way that would have otherwise been prohibitively expensive.
Expand opportunities for students in rural communities
In the past, students in sparsely populated rural areas have missed out on many of the opportunities that their urban and suburban peers take for granted. Connecting these rural students via videoconferencing allows them to attend school from home and gives them access to field trips and experts they would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience. This dramatically improves the quality of their learning experience, ensuring that their access to a full-range of public education experiences is met in practice, not just in theory.
Connect classrooms in different countries and expand students’ worldview
In our global society, it’s more important than ever for students to have a greater appreciation for the world around them.
With videoconferencing, Alief ISD connects its schools with other schools around the globe to cross traditional classroom boundaries and celebrate literacy and reading.
Instantly connecting to other classrooms in multiple countries puts a face to geographically distant people and cultures, preparing students to be citizens and stewards of the more open, more tolerant and more interconnected world of tomorrow.
Record and archive sessions for future playback
Whether a student misses a class or just wants to go over the content again during their study time, video recording and playback makes it easy to stay on track and reinforces knowledge transfer. This benefit extends beyond just the students. District staff meetings can be held over video to eliminate travel and can be recorded for anyone unable to participate live.
Conduct parent/teacher videoconferences
Scheduling conflicts can be avoided altogether by conducting parent/teacher conferences remotely. With tools like guest invites and web apps, parents just need an internet connection and a webcam to dial in to a parent/teacher conference. This method is easier on all schedules involved and includes zero travel time.
With video, traditional classroom boundaries can be broken. Video collaboration improves the quality and scope of education provided to students, giving access to high-caliber and rich learning experiences for all.