Video Conferencing: A Grossly Under-Used Tool
Video conferencing was once a vision for the future. That is no longer true, as this technological advancement is used today in many industries as a means of sharing information across long distances as well as in education for “virtual field trips”. Unfortunately though, neither business nor school has used video conferencing to its full potential, and there are many other industries that could benefit from it as well.
In terms of business, video conferencing is simply cost-effective. It not only saves you money in airfare, car rental and hotel fees, but it also saves on lost time due to travel. One could set up and give a presentation on the east coast which can be viewed by employees or perspective clients on the west coast all in real time. There is no worry about jet lag or inclement weather that can delay flights; it is simply a meeting that will happen, regardless of those things. Video conferencing can also allow you to present information to all parties who need it simultaneously without the waste of money and time of mass producing marketing or informational packets to be distributed.
As far as education is concerned, video conferencing offers students the world, quite literally! Imagine being able to be taught a French lesson from someone in Paris, or being able to compare your daily life with that of a peer in Japan. It can also allow a teacher to serve a broader, perhaps even larger number of students. The world wide web has an abundance of information that teachers can use to spark and keep the interest of their students that simply isn’t available (or feasible to make available) without the help of this technology. In the more rural school districts where busing students creates an economic hardship, video conferencing could be a viable alternative. Some districts already use this type of learning for pupils that have learning disabilities or behavioral issues, many more could benefit from this as well. Another major benefit to this is that it allows students to learn in their own way without the distraction of other students.
Video conferencing is becoming more popular on college campuses, allowing professors to attend conferences and still give lectures to their students. In fact, some colleges are strictly web interactive. Elementary, middle and high schools would be wise to follow suit, Shared lessons throughout a district allow for more equal opportunity learning, and can be more extensive without being more expensive. Tests, quizzes, and study materials can all be made available to students via the computer as opposed to the mimeographed reams of paper from the past.