The twenty-first century has seen a massive move towards distance learning. In the past, getting an education from a university sometimes required leaving your home town for months at a time. Now, the internet has made it much easier. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics says that approximately twenty percent of undergraduate students have taken at least one distance learning course. However, this is just the first step in the internet revolution as far as distance learning goes. Ease of hosting has made online education via video a very real occurrence. The fact that physical presence makes a difference in the rate of learning has been a well-documented fact in academia. Low-cost distribution solutions like those offered by Blue Jeans video conferencing makes it easy to access hosted information from any device. Here we explore the education revolution that video conferencing has become a part of.
Almost Like Being Present
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology observed that in the early days of long distance video teaching, there was a tendency to make the lectures passive, leading to terrible student retention and defeating the purpose of the exercise. We are now aware that passively sending information across a connection doesn’t constitute a ‘classroom experience’. In fact, it can be quite detrimental to the student if they are unable to interact with the teacher and address problems with their understanding of the course content. Video conferencing is a step in the right direction, since it deals more with interactivity than passive absorption of information. The fact that students can interact with teachers makes it much more of a holistic approach to education than the past attempts.
Location is not an Issue
Distance learning programs were developed in an aim to address the far-flung parts of the population that did not have the physical or financial means to get to a university. The early endeavors at distance education were reasonably successful, but with the present technology available, rates of enrolment have soared. This is because, thanks to companies like virtual classrooms from companies like Blue Jeans, it is easier than it has ever been before to enter into a distance learning program and feel as though you are right in the class with the lecturer. High speed internet combined with high quality, low cost distribution solutions makes for a far more engaging system of student-teacher interaction than ever before. All the student requires is an internet connection and the world could be their classroom.
Because of cloud storage, things like handouts and presentations can be easily distributed to students or shown as an overlay on the lecturer’s stream. This enables the information to reach students instantaneously. This translates to a whole world of possibilities for lecturers, ranging from pop quizzes to handouts that cover details that they can’t get into in their own lectures. In many cases for University-level courses, visual information needs to be disseminated. The method of using interactive video communication between lecturer and student is by far the most efficient method of dissemination of visual information. It also allows a student to raise their concerns about anything they don’t understand immediately. It creates a streamlined approach to distance education. The Royal Botanical Gardens has become a pioneer in the field offering interactive tours via video conferencing to students that are interested.
In some campuses, guest lecturers are invited to speak at certain courses. These lecturers are usually experts in their field of study. However, many times their schedules are booked because of how in-demand they are as academic professionals. In order to accommodate students, many of these guest lecturers turn to video conferencing technology to deliver a lecture from their own university campuses. Since technology like Blue Jeans makes it easy for students to connect to the stream from almost any hardware, even users with just a tablet or a smartphone can experience these lectures almost as if they were sitting in a lecture hall with the esteemed guest. The lectures can then be archived on the cloud and used later on in other courses.
Distance education has embraced emerging technology to bring education to many students that cannot get to a university, either because of financial or physical circumstances. It has also made it easier for lecturers that are experts in their field to address a larger number of students and interactively deliver a lecture without physically being present in the proximity of the students. We are living in a time where it is possible to send information great distances in the blink of an eye, and companies such as Blue Jeans make it simple for us to connect and learn from ever increasing distances at little to no extra cost to us. This is a revolution in online learning and it can only lead to a better tomorrow by keeping the world’s future leaders well-educated.