Video communications for education

Jane Ross, Head of Public Sector, UK and Ireland at Zoom Video Communications, explains how conferencing tech can benefit both teachers and students

Video conferencing is a wonderful technology that has helped change the way both business and personal communications are conducted. But video conferencing isn’t just a useful tool for business and personal use, it’s also a highly effective tool teachers can use to enhance a student’s learningexperience. Now schools, colleges and universities around the globe are discovering that video conferencing technology has the power to extend the learning experience beyond the classroom and connect their students with people, places and events. Not only does this make it easier for teachers to teach and students to learn, but it also makes for more memorable lessons. 

While the technology has been around for a long time, only recently has it evolved to become a practical and realistic proposition for all users. No matter what device they use, video conferencing is now a one-click reality for everyone. Here are some of the waysvideo communications can be integrated into your classrooms to invigorate lessons:

Virtual field trips

There’s simply no denying the benefits that field trips, either in-person or virtual, provide your students. But whether it’s shrinking school budgets or shrinking family budgets, field trips simply aren’t as accessible as they used to be. Video conferencing allows students to reach out to museums and historical places of interest to take your students around the world without them ever leaving their seats. Today, many technology providers have simple set-up and mobile compatibility which makes it easy for staff to give tours to students, right from their phone, to create a shared experience that the whole class can enjoy. 

Guest lectures from real-world professionals

Learning about cellular biology? European history? Data science? Reach out to biologists, historians, analysts, and other professionals for powerful guest lectures to supplement your curriculum. While video conferencing helps to open the class to more students, it can also be used to bring more information into the classroom. Rather than bringing a guest speaker to the school for a short presentation – which can be expensive and may be viewed as a waste of the expert’s time – video conferencing can be used to instantly connect the students to the expert, without the need for anyone to travel.

Connect with other classrooms

Bring in other classrooms, not only in your region, but in other countries as well! Collaborative learning, and learning about peers in other cultures in their own environment can be an enriching experience for all students, while helping forge new friendships. 

Connect with foreign language natives

For foreign language classes, give your students genuine language practice and a first-hand experience of the language and culture by connecting with a native speaker, simply and easily.

Explore careers

Get your students excited about their future careers by connecting with professionals who can talk to them about their daily activities, lifestyles, education/training, dreams, ambitions and goals. Students can even participate in mock interviews with these professionals. This valuable opportunity to network will not only broaden their horizons but could even help them land their first job!

Enable participation for students out of the classroom

Don’t let students fall behind on classwork because they are out sick. If physically possible, why not have them join the classroom virtually, or simply record the lecture for them to watch later when they’re better? This option means they will have less work to catch up on when they return to school. 

Virtual parent-teacher meetings

Gone are the days of parents being unable to attend their child’s parent-teacher conferences due to busy schedules. The opportunity is now open for parents to meet their child’s entire teaching team, even if they cannot make it in person. 

Hold tutoring sessions / office hours

Holding tutoring sessions via video saves time and creates more opportunities for students with packed schedules. Instead of blocking out a period of time, when students may not even show up, use video collaboration solutions to schedule sessions when it’s most convenient for everyone. This added flexibility works for all parties and means that less lesson time is wasted for teachers and students alike.  

Teach from home: Feeling sick or traveling out of town? 

If you’re wary of sharing your cold and sniffles with the whole school, then instead of pushing back lessons and finding a substitute, why not teach from home and have everyone join in via a video conference? Some solutions allow up to 500 video participants per conference and include features like video breakout rooms, which are an ideal way for students to engage in the same dynamic virtual learning environment from their laptops and phones. You can move from breakout to breakout as the session host, enabling your lessons to continue even if you’re not physically in the building.

Connect with pen pals

For years, the concept of pen pals has been an effective way for young people to expand their horizons, whether it’s by traditional pen and paper, or more recently via email. Why not bring this age-old convention right up to date with video communications? Using it, students will have a much more meaningful interactive experience being able to meet ‘face to face’ from day one if they choose, to create a pen pal friendship that’s more engaging than ever before.   

There’s no doubt that teaching is more challenging than ever, and as the global economy gets tougher, preparing students for the future presents complex hurdles. This is just one area where video communications technology is a powerful tool for helping to bridge the gap between the demands placed on teachers and the expectations of today’s students.