What Is the Importance of Video Conferencing in Education?
The way we teach and learn is changing – for a lot of reasons. While change may be hard, it also opens new opportunities for teachers and students.
One major shift that’s present in most classrooms is the incorporation of blended, flipped, and online learning methodologies, which are all supported by video conferencing. As we enter this new era in education, this tool has several benefits and can really bring your classroom to life. Here’s why you should be making the most of this powerful tool in your classroom.
What Is Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing in education allows teachers to connect with students no matter where they are. This lets teachers and students engage in real-time both audibly and visually. This tool is becoming more and more a part of the educational world as institutions adapt to new technologies and the changing needs of both students and teachers.
Examples of Video Conferencing in Education
One of the exciting things about video conferencing is that it can be used in so many different ways in the classroom. Here are some examples:
Asynchronous Learning: Teachers can pre-record entire lessons or lectures that students can then watch later on their own time. This works for class environments with large amounts of students scattered in different locations.
Synchronous Learning: Alternatively, we can also use video conferencing to conduct a live class almost the same as you would an in-person class. As this article from NYU points out, there are several techniques that you can employ to make your classroom authentic:
- Learn students’ names and call on them during the lesson
- Ask students to participate by commenting on others’ answers or opinions
- Set up group conversations or projects in breakout rooms
Communication: Additionally, video conferencing can help us as teachers create more personalized learning experiences for students. Outside of class hours, this tool can be used as a means of communication between students, parents, and teachers.
By learning how to effectively use video conferencing in the classroom, we can discover all of the benefits that it has to offer to us, our students, and their families.
The Importance of Video Conferencing in Education
Whether you’re new to the game or you’ve been using this tool for some time, it’s never too late to discover the power and importance of video conferencing in education.
1. Encourages Collaboration
A key advantage of video conferencing is that it lets students collaborate on group work or projects easily. To make lessons interesting and interactive, we need to find opportunities that allow students to work together and foster conversation. It’s easy for them to lose interest if the entire lesson is a lecture. Instead, use features like breakout rooms or small group conversations to encourage students to work on a collaborative task.
Beyond student collaboration, video conferencing can also be used between teachers to quickly share ideas and materials. This could be in the form of a meeting, webinar, or casual chat. Beyond meeting with teachers in your school, you can reach out to connect to educators in other places and regions to explore new ideas and perspectives.
2. Helps to Create Flipped Classrooms
Flipped classrooms help students to get involved in the learning process and take charge like never before. Technology has helped to develop this method, with video conferencing playing an integral part.
Students can watch a pre-recorded lesson on their own before a task, project, or in-person class. Not only does this get them ready for what’s to come, but students can also take in the information on their own time in a way that works best for them. As a teacher, this helps you to get the most out of class time so that you don’t have to spend as much time talking and presenting. Instead your students can get right down to work putting their newly acquired information and skills into practice.
3. Sharing Content Is Easy
A great feature to take advantage of when using video conferencing in education is the capability to share enriching materials and files with your students to enhance your lessons. While we always have the option to upload supplementary materials to an online portal before or after class, video conferencing software gives teachers and students the possibility to share files and multimedia in real-time.
While this feature can be useful for teachers, it can be just as helpful for our students. When learning remotely, the ability to quickly and efficiently share materials makes group work or projects possible.
4. Connects Students and Classrooms Around the World
The beauty of a digital classroom is that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Distance learning can make some students feel isolated, but by using a video conferencing tool, we allow them to connect with us and their peers in an authentic way. This is more engaging than other traditional online learning methods.
Consider branching out and collaborating on a lesson or project with students from another school. Have your class team up with students in another city or even country to complete a project that promotes connection, communication, and cross-cultural understanding. Because the digital classroom has no limits, using video conferencing tools can bring together both teachers and students like never before.
To plan a lesson or a project like this, you might want to focus on a cultural aspect in which students might be interested. These could be topics like language, history, or art, for example. Your students can interview and talk with students from another culture to learn more about a topic they might not have a lot of knowledge about otherwise.
5. The Outside World Can Be Brought to the Classroom
As mentioned, the digital classroom is limitless. We want to create meaningful, interesting lessons for our students, and connecting them to the world outside of the classroom is yet another way that video conferencing in education can make class time more enriching.
For example, why not take your students on a virtual field trip? Whereas traditional school trips can be costly or limited to an area near your school, taking a virtual field trip lets your students explore and learn while experiencing something new and exciting. Many museums and monuments offer virtual tours that you can explore without even having to leave your chair.
Another way to engage your students is to bring in a guest speaker. This speaker could be an expert on a topic that you’re studying who can share first-hand knowledge and anecdotes with your students. Video conferencing makes it easy to connect your guest with your classroom in a way that’s easy and convenient for everyone.
6. Families and Teachers Can Connect Conveniently
Many parents and family members want to be involved and up-to-date with their child’s education. Using video conferencing software makes meetings between teachers and families easy because parents can connect from anywhere. There’s no commute time or rushing from work to meet with their child’s teacher. Scheduling becomes much easier for all parties, especially if both of the parents are connecting from different places.
7. Lessons Can Be Recorded for Future Reference
A helpful feature for older students learning remotely is the ability to playback lessons after they’ve finished. This technology gives us the ability to record our lessons as they’re happening. Older students can take advantage of this feature to help with note-taking or simply reviewing the material again. Again, this helps students to take control of their own learning and discover the learning process that works best for them.
Students who were absent from a lesson can watch the play-back and get caught up quickly and efficiently as if they never missed the class at all. There’s no need for teachers to spend extra time trying to catch students up when they can do it easily on their own time before the next lesson.
How Teachers Do Video Conferencing Well
Online learning is here to stay, whether through blended or flipped classrooms, virtual schools and campuses, or the convenience of online collaboration.
Because of this, it’s important to know how to best use this tool to get the most out of it. To succeed with using video conferencing in your digital classroom, use the same approaches that you would in a traditional classroom. This includes getting to know your students. Even though you and your students are scattered in different places, it’s important to try and make connections to bridge those distances. As mentioned before, take the time to learn your students’ names, and then call on them in class for answers, opinions, and ideas.
Using video conferencing software might take some getting used to for both you and your students. It’s important to remember that not everyone is comfortable being on camera, so students might be shy. Microphones can be noise-activated if they aren’t on mute, so expect some background noise in the beginning. Talk with your students about proper etiquette, like not interrupting others who are speaking. Once you’ve established etiquette and ground rules, your digital classroom will have more of a traditional classroom feeling.
Also keep in mind that while using video conferencing software, you and your students are most likely seeing each other only from the shoulders up. This means that things like body language and non-verbal communication can get lost. Knowing this, you can use your voice in ways to convey emphasis on certain points, or tone to stress importance. Don’t be afraid to use some gestures as well.
Summing it Up
Every day, teachers are discovering the importance of video conferencing in education. Unlike a traditional classroom, a digital classroom has limitless possibilities for both you and your students to explore. With some confidence and a little practice, we can lead effective and enriching lessons that emphasize connection and communication.