A Look at the Role of Videoconferencing in Online Education

by Jones David

Education knows no forms and bounds and, with the help of technology, makes itself accessible to all. Videoconferencing has blurred the need for people to physically appear or meet to learn a second language or get guidance from someone more experienced.

Classes can happen when you are off the clock or during office hours as part of business training. They can also be anywhere that is quiet and has a reliable internet connection. School shouldn’t interfere with your education, and access to modern tools tells you that there is always room for self-improvement.

Online Education at a Glance

Distance education traces its humble roots to correspondence course and open universities that compel physical attendance at some point. As the internet becomes widely available and adopted, online education has come to the fore.

This type of learning is hinged on the use of online resources and platforms and delivered in two distinct ways.

  • Synchronous learning entails all participants to attend a class or meeting via the web, video, or teleconference. An example of this type of e-learning is one-is-to-one tutorials. Stripped of technology, it is the setup of traditional classrooms.
  • Asynchronous learning appeals to people who like to study at their own pace. Assignments, exams, and the entire coursework are sent via email. Students often post in dedicated forums to answer questions from their teachers. 

How Videoconference Fits Into the Picture

Online education itself spells flexibility because you don’t have to travel somewhere to learn something. It saves you time, money, and energy that you can channel to acquire new knowledge or skill set in front of the computer.

The appearance of videoconferencing in e-learning has made it even more flexible for the following reasons:

  1. Interactive. Whether a shorter attention span is a myth or reality, seeing someone talk, write on a whiteboard, or ask questions can compel you to listen attentively. This stimulation can stave off boredom and loss of interest in what you are momentarily doing. 
  2. Live. Classes delivered via videoconferences are the closest you can get to face-to-face interaction. What’s more, your teacher or instructor can give you feedback immediately and in real-time. Plus, you can have conversations during your meetings. 
  3. Personalized. One-on-one tutorials don’t get more personal than physically seeing your mentor. The term personalized also takes on another broader form when you have lessons that are streamlined based on your progress and goals.

Real-Life Examples of Learning in Virtual Settings 

Videoconferences foster a dynamic relationship between students and teachers, as evident in these areas where the communication tool has proven itself effective.

  • Language. ESL (English as a second language) is a prime example of how videoconferencing is used to speak, read, or write another country’s native tongue. People across all demographics sign up for online classes where a live teacher shows them the rubrics and intricacies of the language, reads along with them and writes words for them to copy.

For an industry that has 1.5 billion learners worldwide, the opportunity for native speakers and those fluent in the English language to teach looks bright.   

  • Apprenticeship. Are you looking to round up your degree with experience and tap the expertise of others? Virtual apprenticeship programs are available; they offer face-to-face engagement and mentoring, as needed, with The Best people in your chosen field. Examples are the UK-based Virtual College and the Southern New Hampshire  University in partnership with GenM.  
  • Mentoring. Some seniors have opted out to unretire and use their knowledge and experience to mentor the young ones. The accessibility of videoconferencing equipment helps retirees build a home office and set face-to-face meetings with their students. They earn without exposing themselves to a hectic and harsh working environment.

It’s common nowadays to incorporate online lectures into a traditional course curriculum. For example, Austin Peay State University (APSU) history professor Dr. Minoa Uffelman has scheduled videoconferences with experts and historians so her students can ask questions or glean further insights on the speakers’ work.

The Personal Link 

Technology, videoconferencing in this instance, is an equalizer for ardent learners and passionate teachers. The domain of online education also gets a boost from how accessible computers, phones, and peripherals are in particular to people who lead telecommuting lives. 

Moreover, online courses utilize or are built on popular videoconferencing apps that are user-friendly and compatible with most consumer-grade electronics. In cases, however, where a videoconference is not feasible, you can try to use a desk phone like Nortel Networks phones to dial in and join the meeting. These IP phones remain in use for teleconferencing because of their reliable audio quality and time-tested performance.

Who knows what’s next for online education (e.g., what methodologies will make learning efficient and convenient)? For now, videoconferencing has contributed to learners’ progress and growth on this internet age.

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