Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guest Post - Can Video Conferencing Improve Education?

Advances in communication technology have helped to shape and mould the way sectors such as health and education conduct their practises in the modern age. Video Conferencing, Telepresence and Telehealth have made it possible for people to not only talk over large distances but to see each other too. This has contributed to exciting new times in an abundance of professional fields.

Due to its versatility, there are many uses for Video Conferencing. The technology has been utilized for personal communication, business meetings and more recently has been tested in the educational field. Telecommunication has become increasingly important in the education sector for a number of reasons and has become particularly crucial in developing nations where resources such as qualified teachers may not be particularly widespread. Due to the poor living conditions of third world countries, many teachers are hesitant about physically relocating themselves to areas where they are needed and as such, education levels are in danger. However, Video Conferencing may be able to provide an answer.

Telecommunications now allow for teachers to give lessons to multiple classrooms of children at once; no longer does an educator have to physically be in the same room as the people they are educating. Video Conferencing allows for teachers to transmit their lessons simultaneously to children all over the globe in a historically unparalleled measure. It is now possible for a teacher to transmit a stream of the lesson they are giving in Colorado not just to other parts of the country but to opposite hemispheres.  

Amongst the increasing number benefits of Video Conferencing are that, as the streaming quality becomes clearer and of a higher quality, the price for the equipment necessary for telecommunications is experiencing a decline as the technology is becoming much more widespread. Video Conference technology has improved so much that new compression techniques have made it so that images can be seen in crisp HD detail over a small amount of bandwidth, eliminating the need to sacrifice quality over bandwidth or bandwidth over quality.

Yet, despite this, Video Conferencing in education is not necessarily the best solution. Telecommunications does not allow for the intimacy which a classroom setting creates. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for a teacher to tailor their lessons to each individual they teach whilst being some distance away. This is particularly true if the teacher were to teach two or more classrooms at once; children would be deprived of the individual interactions that are necessary for learning. Also, another possibility is that the technology could be open to abuse. If profits were to take precedent over education then it is not impossible to imagine telecommunication, due to its cost efficiency, being utilized by default instead of the more expensive option of employing more teachers.

So whilst telecommunications may not be the perfect method of improving education levels in developed countries, Video Conferencing can certainly play its part in helping. In countries where qualified teachers are in low supply and it is certainly more cost efficient and easier to use telecommunication than the alternative. Whilst one on one education is the ideal choice in certain areas, it is not always achievable and Video Conferencing may be the best alternative to a physical teacher presence.

Guest Post by Rashed Kahn

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Related Articles:

Real Challenges, Virtual Solutions in Alaska Classrooms

5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing In Education

Applications of Videoconferencing Technology in Education

How Video Conferencing is Useful for Rural Educators 

How have you used videoconferencing in education? How do you think it can help education?


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