Video Conferencing: Going the Distance

April 7, 2016

Imagine living in a rural area where there is one school option with a limited faculty. Would you drive an hour or more out of your way every day to make sure that your child gets a good education?

This used to be a big problem in rural communities. But today, these students are able to experience the same educational opportunities as students in highly populated areas thanks to video conferencing and digital technology in schools.

Digital video conferencing is transforming the way students learn. It’s taking them out of their books and transporting them to the site of what they are learning

Students don’t have to sit around and learn about outer space from textbooks anymore. They can now video conference with an expert from NASA, college professors, or even an astronaut.

Distance Learning

Although a teacher may not be physically located onsite, students are able to watch and listen to teachers on screens in video conferencing rooms.

Harvard has just implemented an advanced version of this technology. A professor is able to stand in front of a large curved screen that 60 students can log into. This video conferencing classroom is set up like any other lecture hall except the students are on screen rather than in seats.

Commonly known as distance learning, this technology allows multiple parties from different sites to log on at the same time which means that teachers can invite speakers and other classrooms to the conference.

Many rural schools connect to each other to form a virtual learning site for high-school courses, but the technology has also been used to offer college courses to high school students. Universities are often equipped with cameras that can connect them to high school classrooms and can allow teachers to instruct multiple classes at once.

This technology has also been used in urban schools. For example, schools in Rochester, New York have connected with schools in Tampa, Florida to discuss civil rights and culture in America.

The Office of Educational Technology, part of the US Department of Education, is striving to make use of this kind of technology to increase equity and accessibility across schools. As the world becomes more connected and

Erin Twenter
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