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Technology in the Classroom: Ways to Use Video Conferencing

Janelle Cox

Long gone are the days when students learned from just a textbook. In today’s education system, students have the ability to learn from real experts all across the globe via many means, including video conferencing. This evolving technology in the classroom teaching method has enhanced learning in classrooms from kindergarten to college. It enables students at separate locations to communicate with others through video and audio transmissions, from all areas around the globe, in real time.

Students are now able to interview an astronaut, tour the Dallas aquarium, or visit with other school children in a third-world country. These advancements in technology in the classroom are sure to ignite an interest for learning that some traditional teaching methods can’t. Here are a few ways that you can use video conferencing in your classroom.

Technology in the Classroom: Connect with an Expert

Video conferencing allows students to connect with an expert that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to in the classroom. It gives teachers the opportunity to bring far-away experts into the classroom to share their knowledge. Recently, for example, students in a California school were able to connect with an astronaut from the NASA space station using their school’s conferencing equipment. They were able to tour the space station and interview an astronaut in real time. This would have been impossible years ago if it wasn’t for the technology of video conferencing.

Connecting to an expert doesn’t just mean that you have to call upon someone from another country. If you find that your students are practically weak in a certain subject area, then you can invite a knowledgeable resource to the classroom. For instance, if students are weak in writing, then you can invite a popular author to speak to them about the importance of reading and writing.

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Connecting to Other Classrooms

Video conferencing allows students in multiple schools around the globe to connect with one another. There are many ways that you can use it to connect with other classrooms. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use it as a global “Show and tell.”
  • Foreign language students can increase their conversational skills.
  • Students in America connect with students in England (or any other country) to compare their everyday lives and customs.
  • Science students do daily demos (experiments) for other classrooms.
  • Students learn about another country’s history, then connect with students from that country.

Distance Learning

Some school districts are unable to offer their students advanced courses because of the lack of funds or lack of faculty. These schools can benefit from video conferencing because it enables them to offer their students the courses they need over a long distance. Instead of sending their students off to another school for a particular course, all you would have to do is link up the expert into your classroom. To access available courses for your school, just connect with an expert. For example, let’s say that you wanted to offer your high school students a course on anatomy. You would then connect with a doctor via video conference. The Center of Science and Industry (or COSI) offers video conferencing programs to give your students a surgeon’s eye view of a live procedure. This will connect your students with a live expert in an interactive experience they will never forget.

Through a Virtual Field Trip

Virtual field trips are becoming increasingly more common via video conferencing than ever before. Teachers are now able to offer their students the chance to tour a volcano, a rainforest, or even space right from the comfort of their own classroom. Students can see a doctor performing a medical procedure, visit a museum from a faraway land, or observe the New York stock exchange. It’s a great way for learning to come alive in the classroom.

Video conferencing is a powerful means for giving students unparalleled access to people and place that they have never been to or seen before. While it may seem like it could be a daunting task, once the equipment is set up, and the expert is in place, all you have to do is watch the magic happen.

What do you think of video conferencing? Does your school have the means to do so? If so, what are some ways that you use video conferencing in your classroom? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear what your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.