Video conferencing has become increasingly popular in business and education over the past few years. This rapid growing technology not only allows people to connect in real time through audio and video but also makes sharing of documents and files live over the internet easier. Many educators have utilized this technology to teach and share live experiences with students through direct video streaming.
That helps connect teachers and students from different locations at the same time without the need for the parties to be physically present. However, video conferencing comes with a share of its own challenges or disadvantages. The benefits of video conferencing technology may be great but its setbacks may just be enough to disappoint users who depend on it on a daily basis.
Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing in education:
Collaboration between or among schools allows for a healthy interaction that can boost overall performance. Unlike in the past where a school had to physically sent its teachers to other schools to learn new teaching and management techniques, interaction today is made easier through video conferencing. Nowadays, schools can organize teaching training, academic conferences and online education webinars and deliver them via live audio and video streaming.
All a school needs to do is adopt a robust video conferencing system that can allow participants to enjoy a high-definition live streaming. With that, teachers can fully interact with attendees on the other side, chat with them and share useful tools and information to teaching. This form of interaction not only saves on time but also conserves money resources that could have been used by teachers to go back and forth between schools.
In the event where a school has minimal budget or its travel plans seem impractical, video conferencing can be the best alternative to go for. Only a few representatives can be sent on the field to bring live coverage. That way, students can be able to look at exhibits in real-time from museums or learn about company operations live from the comfort of their classrooms. That minimizes on time and money resources that would have otherwise been incurred in the actual trip while still providing practical solutions to learning.
With video conferencing, students can enjoy out-of-class learning from the comfort of their homes. Teachers can organize and schedule for classes and invite students to attend at any time and from wherever they may be. Students will only need to have HD cameras and stable internet connection to start learning from out of class. Teachers and students can even create study groups to enjoy unlimited interaction and learning from home.
One of the greatest advantages of video conferencing in education is that it allows participants to record and save lessons and meetings. This can be a relief to students who miss class due to absenteeism or those who would simply want to review the lessons later. With video conferencing software, teachers can hold staff meetings at any time and have everyone attend from anywhere. The meetings can also be recorded to help those who were unable to attend live session catch up with the agenda. That saves on time and travel expenses, especially for teachers who are committed elsewhere.
Video conferencing eliminates time and district barriers, making it possible for people to hold meetings at anytime and from anywhere. When a school adopts video conferencing in holding parent/teacher conferences, it minimizes scheduling conflicts on both parties. Schools can always use video conferencing tools like ezTalks Meetings to engage parents in the parent/teacher conferences and meetings.
One of the main disadvantages of video conferencing in education is that it lacks the aspect of personal interaction. As much as live streaming of lessons or meetings might be effective, participants might miss out on important facial expressions and body language. That may happen when one experiences a stuttering video or a pixilated image from the live presentation due to bad equipment or internet connection. Such things can limit learning and lead to wastage of resources like time and internet data subscription.
A school may think it's saving on travel or operational expenses by purchasing a video conferencing system but the cost of acquiring related equipment and software might turn out to be enormous. The need for extra training to use video conference system’s special program can lead even more costs. Paying for data connection and carrying out regular maintenance may also mean added operational costs.
The smooth transmission of a live lesson or meeting may sometimes be affected by technical difficulties of the video conference system. That may be caused by hardware, software or network failure. Such circumstances require the help of technical support team to intervene and in their absence, it might be difficult to continue enjoying a live presentation. Even when there’s a way to fix the problem, it will take some time to be reconnected, unlike when you’re attending the actual class or meeting.
Different video conferencing systems are designed with a certain limit of the number of participants they can accommodate in one sitting. While some allow for 25 to 50 participants to engage in video conferencing at the same time, others can accommodate up to 500 participants and more. Even so, you may need to get high quality speakers and microphones to be able to attend to a large group of class members. You also need to invest in quality video as it uses more bandwidth than audio. That presents more challenges to video conferencing compared to when you have to meet or teach people in a physical or actual class setting.
These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing in education that any school or concerned stakeholders must look at. The benefits of this form of technology are great while challenges that come with it cannot be ignored all the same. Hence adopting the use video conferencing systems in education require careful though and planning if success is to be realized. But despite the many financial and resource challenges presented by video conferencing, it still provides a convenient way to connect teachers, students, parents and other stakeholders.