Video calling technology has undergone an enormous evolutionary process during the last decade (or slightly more) of overall accelerations in technological innovations. This is not just a minor fringe technology anymore and it is no longer something that you as a teacher or educator should think of as simply being for international corporate meetings and friends talking to each other across oceans.
Video Conference in School
The reality is in fact quite the opposite; video calling technology is not only more ubiquitous than ever, it’s also more applicable to your potential classroom needs than you might imagine. Not only could you find a way of using video as an excellent long distance education tool, you might even be able to get creative and make it into something that can completely reshape your classroom or how you interact with your students. Furthermore, by doing this, you will be participating in a long term trend whose future will only make video more ingrained into the daily fabric of education.
Let’s cover a few useful tips and facts that can lead you in the right direction.
Video Conferencing Options
As an educator, teacher or education administrator, you have a very wide plethora of commercial product options available when it comes to video calling and conferencing. These can range in scope from the most basic (and limited) applications such as Skype or Apple FaceTime, both of which are essentially free to use in a limited conferencing or person to person calling setup; or they can include very complex teleconferencing platforms that come with hardware and dedicated communications lines. Companies such as Intercall, Cisco and Microsoft all offer products such as these at varying costs.
Knowing which video calling system to choose for your class needs will depend a lot on exactly how you want to use it, your education technology budget (in the hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars) and of course how many students you want to incorporate into your video calling system.
These are issues that you need to decide for yourself after some careful research and reference checking; it might also be a good idea to search for examples of other schools that have successfully implemented whatever video conferencing setup you yourself are hoping to try with your group of students and other teachers.
Also, bear in mind that whatever may seem expensive today will only become less costly as time goes on; less costly and also of higher quality thanks to the constant innovations we’re seeing in web connectivity, broadband transmission power and video presentation technology making possible extraordinarily sharp clarity over ever smaller, thinner screens.
Some Video Calling Possibilities for Today and the Near Tomorrow
The number of possible uses for video calling can be extremely varied, and in some cases the technology itself can be used without actually even requiring live, in-person calls to occur, instead being integrated as part of a larger education presentation that relies on recordings of already filmed video. Here are some potential uses to ponder:
Geographically Separated Interconnected Video Classrooms
Quite a mouthful, but it represents a powerful idea: if you’re offering lectures and learning materials to students in a relatively small classroom –or even a big one but your classes are very popular—and want to make sure that other students can have access to what you need to teach regardless of whether they have the time or money to be there in person, then video calling will solve your dilemma.
If you’re working with a higher budget, you can arrange to have remote video presentation screens set up in classroom on the other side of the world or as close as in a different campus building, screens with a direct web based feed to your live lecture or class.
Working on a smaller scale, you can offer the same thing via internet connection from a web page that feeds into your video lecture and presents it at a specific URL which anyone from outside your class can access.
Best of all, thanks to cloud storage and chat technology, you can also take things a step further by giving all viewers a chance to field questions your way as you talk or making yourself able to hand out notes and papers in digital form, not only to in-class students, but also to viewers who happen to be anywhere else. This can be done simply by giving them all a general cloud storage download link where you place files in real time and they then withdraw them under the same circumstances.
Tutoring and Tele-assistance
Beyond the class setting itself, video calling gives you an excellent tool for student assistance without the need to wait for arrivals at your actual office. By simply setting up an online video calling account, whether it be arranged through a free service like Skype or a more sophisticated service such as Intercall, you can then give your students a unique ID or URL identifier by which they can find you either through their browsers or by downloading the same video calling program you use and searching for you.
Through this technology, you can then give out certain after-class times when you’ll be connected and available for video questions about any class subject. It may seem a bit clumsy to implement at first, but remember, the technology is improving constantly and assuming everyone possesses access to a decent web connection, suing video for class lectures and after-class tutoring will have a strong appeal to many students or even education staff.
About the author: Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the latest changes in white hat SEO, mobile technology, marketing tech and digital security. He has been a writer covering video technology for Intercall for several years. He also loves to read and write about location-free business, portable business management and finance. When not busy writing or consulting on technology and digital security, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico, where he spends part of the year. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn.