Video Conferencing for E-Learning: A Mindful Approach

Looking around at the world of education, you can see that the landscape is changing. Courses are no longer bound to the classroom and books; indeed, whole colleges exist without ever having to be housed in a large, sprawling campus occupied with many buildings both old and new.

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Photo: BlueJeans

Thanks to the Internet, students can receive a degree by literally staying at home and taking tests in their underwear. So the question that must be asked is: How can we still get a decent classroom experience, with a professor who will be there to advise you on what to do next, without having to sacrifice the convenience or comfort an online school provides? The answer is really quite simple: video conferencing.

BlueJeans video conferencing for e-learning is the best alternative for online schools and universities to connect everybody who is a part of their program, whether it’s professors to their students, students to other students, or the administration to their staff.

Indeed, one could argue that video conferencing capability is essential to the continued success of the school and those who are enrolled in it. But questions must be answered before you can truly determine if video conferencing is right for you.

What BlueJeans Video Conferencing Can Do For You

According to the University of Surrey, one of the foremost academic institutions in the United Kingdom, “videoconferencing allows individuals or groups in different locations to see and hear each other.”

From a university aspect, they argue that many different applications exist for video conferencing such as supervision meetings for Masters or Doctoral students, guest lectures, and building study groups. They truly believe that hosting video conferences for the student body and staff is an ideal way to enhance learning and teaching with technology.

The benefits of video conferencing for e-learning applications are truly massive. Not only can online schools and universities use the technology for staying connected with the student body and staff, but traditional brick-and-mortar education bodies can use video conferencing to enhance the learning experience.

According to the smart folks at How Stuff Works, “approximately 25 percent of public, primary and secondary schools in the United States supplement their curriculums with video conferencing education.”

We, at BlueJeans, feel that this number is entirely too low as many schools do not decide to make the upgrade for whatever reason. However, they are also probably not taking into account that video conferencing, if used in the right ways by a teacher comfortable with the idea, can “ignite an interest and enthusiasm for learning that traditional teaching methods sometimes can’t.”

By bringing interactive lessons to the classroom, not only will students of any age respond with a great deal of excitement, causing them to learn easier, but the teacher will also have access to a lot more teaching resources than is available at the school alone. This almost always translates into higher grades and, therefore, a higher graduation percentage.

Limitations and Questions on Video Conferencing

However, one must not confuse video conferencing with e-learning. They are not quite the same thing. Video conferencing is really just an aspect of e-learning, or “distance learning” as some schools call it.

While an essential part of the experience, there are many other things going into e-learning than simply sitting down with a professor through a webcam. Present-day limitations must be considered if you feel like you want to put in video conferencing capability to your distance learning curriculum.

This article and the comments connected to it give evidence to some of the limitations that might be associated with video conference technology. It brings up the question, specifically, about how video conferencing for e-learning applications can potentially negatively affect the website’s performance and therefore the experience of your user base, whether they are staff or students.

It also asks how smaller businesses, such as exclusively online universities who do not require the same amount of space as their physical counterparts, might be able to implement video conferencing without a great deal of the overhead costs associated with the technology and without the beefiness of larger applications like Skype.

One of the comments, given by Gary Wise, says that video conferencing for e-learning is absolutely doable, but a college or distance learning center must proceed with caution. The biggest question regarding the technology that must be asked is if you have the suitable bandwidth to support video conference calls without any associated lag.

If you don’t, Wise suggests “to engage your IS department early if you’re utilizing a corporate network [.]” Furthermore, he states that you shouldn’t simply ask for more bandwidth. You need “to build a business case around strategically aligned business applications that deliver a measurable impact to the org.”

In short: video conferencing for e-learning shouldn’t be there just to give students extra options. It needs to be part of your fabric as an educational institution as well as a business. If you feel that you can support it and you really do need it, this fantastic service just might be the right fit for you.

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