Most often than not, when you think of video conferencing, the image of a bunch of business men and women sitting around a large conference table probably comes to mind. While more and more businesses are using video conferencing to hold their business meetings, video conferencing is no longer a business-only tool. There are currently nearly 30,000 video conferencing systems in place at schools, service centers, district offices, and departments of education across the United States, and many of them are connected to students around the world. With the ability to connect to classrooms around the globe, students are given the opportunity to bring religion, geography, history, and service learning to vibrant life explains Ginger Newman director of the Face2Face program at the Turning Point Learning Center in Emporia, Kansas. The world is changing and video conferencing is allowing children to experience it from their classrooms.
Taking Virtual Field Trips
With the help of video conferencing services, like those provided by Blue Jeans Network, students can now go on virtual field trips. When planning a school field trip, the faculty usually has to spend a lot of time arranging the trip. They have to figure out the transportation, the food, and ways to keep from leaving any of the students behind. There is also the expense that the parents have to come up with to send their children on a field trip. By using video conferencing tools, schools can let their students explore museums, zoos, or an important historical site without having to leave the classroom. A classroom of middle school students located in the Pennsylvania’s Mt. Lebanon School District was able to see the volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, according to Aileen Owens, instructional technology coordinator at Scholastic. Video conferencing opens the doors for a whole new way of learning for students across the globe.
Easy Collaboration Through Video Conferencing
Before classrooms started using video conferencing, their interactions with other students were pretty limited. As a teacher, if you wanted to have your students collaborate on an activity with other students, you were limited to the classrooms and students that were located within your school. These days, with the help of video conferencing, students can work with classrooms and students around the world to share knowledge, collaborate on activities, and discuss relevant issues. By collaborating with classrooms from different areas around the world, students are able to exchange different viewpoints and ideas that they may not otherwise get from people that they have known for years.
Speak with Experts
Having experts come in and talk to students is a great way to enhance the students’ experience during a lesson plan. However, finding the time during their busy schedules doesn’t always allow for them to take the time to come into the classroom to talk with the students. Video conferencing helps bring experts into the classroom by eliminating the time and travel that it would take them to get to the classroom, while still allowing them to impart their experience onto the students. Even adding an online-only session to allow for meeting with a noted expert in the field on their schedule is usually worth it, explains Christina Inge writer at Edudemic. Students are able to gain valuable information that they otherwise would have missed out on if it weren’t for the use of video conferencing in their classrooms.
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Expand Access to Rural Areas
Schools that are located in rural areas often don’t get the same kind of education that their peers that are located in urban and suburban areas get. They may not get the opportunity to participate in the advanced or more detailed classes only because of where they live. When simply getting to school can take hours, school often times take a back seat to other obligations that they might have. The quality of their learning experience can be greatly improved with the help of video conferencing. By connecting these students with the help of video conferencing, they can gain access to experts that they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise and be able to participate in virtual field trips, explains J. Steele of LifeSize.
Video conferencing has given students new opportunities to expand their education and open up their world to new possibilities. With new chances to learn about the world that they live in through collaborating with other students from around the world, students are able to gain a greater appreciation for other societies and cultures. Incorporating video conferencing into the classroom will help enrich each lesson that the students learn and will provide extra material that students wouldn’t be able to find in any book. It is an essential learning opportunity and it won’t be too long before every classroom is utilizing the many benefits of video conferencing as an educational tool.