The Use of Video Conferencing in Education: Benefits and Issues

Yulia Trifonova, the representative of VideoPort, met a technical expert for the International Institute of Economics and Law to discuss the use of video conferencing in distance learning and some issues that may arise.

Lots of people nowadays live in small towns with few or no colleges. This means that if such students want quality higher education, they have to commute or even move to the cities where the best colleges are located. Those who cannot afford it or are simply reluctant to leave their home town may consider distance learning as another option they can use, as it allows them to choose from a wide variety of schools that offer the education students desire and deserve. Technological advances, particularly the introduction of video conferencing to some schools, have made it possible for students to take courses taught by the most well-known professors and lecturers. Yulia Trifonova of VideoPort reports on possible ways of using video conferencing in distance learning and on the problems related to it.

The International Institute of Economics and Law has been using VideoPort SBS Plus video conferencing software application since Oct’09. After three months of successful testing the staff of the Institute has fully appreciated all the benefits of this innovation, as well as the ease of use. Consequently, the academic course schedule for the next semester will be planned to allow for active use of video lectures.

This is how video lecturing works: a lecturer’s monitor displays students located in five different classrooms. Students see the lecturer on screens of their computers. Some inconveniences may arise as students have to follow the lecture looking at their own monitors: the lecturer cannot see their faces, which breaks visual contact with the audience. To resolve this issue, the Institute contemplates equipping classrooms with projectors that would display lecturer for all the students.

At present video lectures are delivered through symmetric video conferences only, since lecturers find it difficult to speak to an audience without visual contact. For the same reason they don’t use asymmetric video conferences that involve up to three broadcasters transmitting their video and audio to all other participants who can only see and listen to them. However, this type of group video conferencing is likely to become widely used for distance learning once teaching staff gets comfortable with it, as it allows having guest speakers from one or more of the distant sites thus offering extended learning opportunities.

In addition to video conferencing capabilities, distance learning can be enhanced with the use of collaboration tools, such as electronic whiteboard and slide show presentations. Moreover, students can ask the professor questions using not only a microphone, but also an integrated chat system.

One of the aspects of educational video conferencing yet to be explored is related to the copyright law. This law is applicable to cases when lectures are recorded by students. Since it is planned to introduce some changes into this field of legislation, it may cause unforeseen difficulties in the future.

The Institute administration is certain that videoconferencing in distance education shows potential, being beneficial for both staff and students. While distance education offers any student access to the almost unlimited number of options, videoconferencing allows dramatically improving the quality of the chosen course.

About VideoPort LLC

VideoPort is a company focused on the development and production of video conferencing software solutions and systems. The company also provides video conferencing services, such as http://www.zoomcall.com. For more information, please visit the company web-site at http://video-port.com.