Continuing Education Made Easy Through Videoconferencing

by : Jason Cox

Videoconferencing provides a communication exchange via the computer that can take place between students and /or groups of students and their instructors in up to the minute real time. There is no delayed response as the interaction is live and comes by way of a computer.

Imagine a classroom full of students paying attention to a computer screen and on that screen another student is demonstrating something relevant to the subject of the classroom or else a teacher is teaching the subject. Instead of the teacher being right there in person standing in front of the classroom he/she could be hundreds, even thousands of miles away standing in their office or living room and teaching! It is an innovative concept in the world of continuing education that is gaining more and more appeal.

Continuing education can either take one of two forms. It can either be a general kind of post-secondary education with no emphasis on a specific degree or it can be education that is required to acquire a license for a given profession.

A videoconference (also referred to as video teleconference) is defined as a set of interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. Yet another name for videoconferencing is visual collaboration.

In order for videoconferencing to take place for the purposes of continuing education a computer is required that contains CU-SeeMe software, a video camera and the Internet. Videoconferencing in an educational setting has many advantages over conventional learning.

These advantages include better planning, the ability to interact with experts in a given subject area, the opportunity to learn about cultural difference, the opportunity to consider different learning styles, a boast to motivation, a better overall retention of materials and an improvement in a variety of skills.

Planning ahead is so important when it comes to many things in life, and when it comes to videoconferencing it is an essential element of its overall success. Briefing students ahead of time about the information that will be communicated via the videoconference is imperative and also helps encourage interest in the subject. This is a relatively new way of learning and it therefore is appealing to many people young and old.

Videoconferencing brings experts into the classroom and as it takes place in real time, students and the teacher as well have the opportunity for a question and answer session with the expert. In the past this was virtually impossible to do because of time and distance constraint. Now videoconferencing allows students to learn first hand from those who are well versed in the given subject.

Students from one culture are now able to communicate with students from other cultures and by so doing, see and experience cultures that are different than their own. For example, in order to teach students in the United States about the Australian culture it is not necessary to put in a movie about Australia because instructors can do better than that- they can set up a videoconference with students in Australia and allow a verbal exchange take place in real time.

A videoconference is a method of first hand learning and can include a variety of forms of media, examples being animations, audio, graphics and video clips. This type of learning has been shown to be excellent for those who are very visual in their learning skills. Videoconferencing is a creative, exciting form of technology that is both inspiring and educational in nature.

More and studies into continuing education and the benefits of videoconferencing yield the result that students enjoy researching even more when they know that they will be presenting their papers and/or essays not only to their own classroom but also to others who are in other places. This raises the morale in the classroom and each students motivation is increased tenfold.

The ability to retain the information they have learned appears to be better for students when it comes from a primary source such as a real person(s) experience and/or expertise as opposed to a secondary source such as a textbook. Videoconferencing brings the world and many aspects of it into the world of the student.

Finally, a variety of skills are improved upon when continuing education includes videoconferencing, whether it is on an occasional basis or if it becomes commonplace. The skills that show improvement in this way include communication skills, management skills, presentation and speaking skills and questioning skills.