One of the most popular scenes in science fiction involves the use of virtual teachers in classrooms where holograms instead of actual people conduct lessons. In fact, some movies even take this to the next level with students taking classes at home through the use of a virtual teacher in their room. While the technology to bring about this form of teaching is still quite far away, one potential alternative that can be used at the present is video conferencing. Basically, video conferencing allows people to have face-to-face conversations in real-time across large distances. In fact, multiple students can be a part of the conference and see each other and talk to one another via the use of webcams and microphones. However, despite the advantages of this type of teaching tool in education, its adoption has been relatively slow with many grade schools, high schools and institutes of higher learning taking a "wait and see approach". The main reason behind their actions is simply because demand for the service has yet to be significant enough to merit its wide scale adoption. Not only that, the use of video conferencing has often been associated with large corporations rather than schools. However, video conferencing will become the newest frontier in education due to its convenience and increasingly affordable costs.
Enabling Home-bound Students to Experience a Classroom Environment
One of the best ways in which video conferencing technology can be adapted for use in education is to help home-bound students become part of the classroom environment inspite of their current sickness or debilitating condition. The problem with home schooling is that this prevents children from experiencing the sociological aspect of being in a classroom where they learn how to interact with children their own age. It is due to this that websites such as Learnnc.org show that video conferencing can be a viable means of teaching home-bound students by utilising easily accessible devices such as a laptop, a webcam and a microphone. By placing the laptop in front of the class and assigning a group of students to interact with the laptop, this enables home-bound students to not only have an education but experience a semblance of what it is like to be part of a school environment.
Enabling Lessons to be Available Anywhere
Some high schools and colleges around the world require students to take up a foreign language as part of their
curriculum. Imagine how awesome it would be if instead of a local teacher merely standing in front of the classroom and teaching, you could have an actual person from France teach you the language. What would be even better is if you could interact with actual French students that are learning English and attempt to establish some form of language exchange. Based on the perspective from Thejournal.com, this type of lesson is actually quite possible using video conferencing technology. By establishing relations and exchange programs with foreign educational institutions, local schools can implement a video conference classroom that would enable students to interact with students from other cultures and who speak different languages. This creates a more interesting learning environment that encourages interaction and makes people want to learn so that they can make friends in other countries. Do note though that in order to bring this about the schools involved would need to invest in the necessary technology such as video conferencing equipment from Blue Jeans however, it is a worthwhile investment given the potential it has to improve the way in which students approach learning a new language.
Creating Blended Learning Initiatives
The concept behind the creation of a blended learning environment is that students can take lessons both in the classroom and online. This enables them to get the full social benefits that comes with being in a classrooms setting while at the same time enables them to have the expediency of an online class. In a 2006 article from Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, it was shown that students generally liked the concept since it combined flexibility with social interaction. One way of looking at how home video conferencing can be integrated into this type of learning is to simply imagine going to class in heavy rain, during a snow storm or other natural weather occurrence that makes getting to school a dangerous prospect. If you could take a lesson at home instead of having to endure the potential dangers of the outside environment, you would definitely choose the home learning prospect, at least for that day alone. Aside from this, there are also lectures that do not require students to interact with their peers and to merely listen to the teacher. Such lessons would be perfect for video conferencing since it would allow schools to save on electricity by having students take certain classes via a video conference instead of having to go to the classroom itself.
Video conferencing will definitely become the future of education not only because of its convenience but the sheer flexibility it gives to students, teachers and schools.