Video can bring education to life – By Phillip Perry, Head of UK/Ireland, Zoom Communications
Education has been an essential part of society for thousands of years. It focuses on developing the academic abilities of children, as well as their capability to engage as social beings. While the fundamental benefits of education are the same as they always were, our world is changing and we have to change with it. Today, technology is at the core of everything we do but, unfortunately, not all educational institutions have the ability or resources to offer the enriched programs they wish they could offer, and students could find themselves missing out.
Illustrating the scale of the problem is new research which found that 91% of schools in the UK have had their funding per pupil cut, and the impact of this growing crisis is leaving teachers and educators frustrated and feeling hopeless. With budgets being squeezed ever tighter, schools, administrators, and teachers alike need to take as many opportunities to save money in the future; the challenge is to do this without compromising learning.
One way in which teachers and educators can offer meaningful and viable learning experiences to their pupils, is by bringing the world into the classroom - but without overspending - through the use of video communications. In our increasingly global society, it’s more important than ever for students to have an appreciation for and understanding of the world around them.
Video communications can enrich a class by facilitating virtual field trips, collaboration exercises with remote classrooms and accessibility to subject-matter experts all around the globe. From visiting world-renowned museums to learning about the stars from astronauts who have seen them from space, the power of HD video in the classroom can facilitate incredible, interactive learning experiences that create a lasting impression.
One educator based in the US who is devoted to connecting their students to people and places from around the world, is Digital Learning Coach Ralph Krauss. He is passionate about connecting students with primary sources of education through the use of innovation and technology – something he calls Edutainment. His "Edutainment Learning" has brought various experts in a number of fields - including Grammy and Oscar winners to Astronauts, Governors, Presidential candidates and many others - to students
When he began using video communication in the classroom it was primarily in the 5th-8th grade (age 10-11). However, he has now branched-out, and offers his Edutainment service to nursery and preschool all the way up to through to school leavers and university students.
Ralph explains “I was a classroom teacher for a variety of grades from kinder (nursery) to fifth grade for eleven years. I found that there were certain topics and subjects that just weren’t sticking when I would simply read from a text book. So, I decided to contact expert guest speakers to physically come in, so that my students could learn from a primary source of information. Distance was an issue, so I decided to connect my students over video conferencing with speakers.”
An example of how Ralph brought these speakers into the classroom - without having to pay for them to come in - was when he used video communications to aid a project around President Kennedy.
He said “I accepted a position to work as a Digital Coach at Pinecrest Academy of Nevada in 2016. This position was essentially a tech specialist position that had me supporting fellow teachers in the classroom with adapting technology in the classroom. A colleague of mine was teaching his students about the assassination of President Kennedy and I decided to try this idea out with his students. I was able to connect the kids with retired Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, who was present during the assassination. From his office in California, he was able to connect with students in Nevada to not only share his story but also answer their questions. This kind of learning takes on a deeper level then simply reading from books – it brings the facts to life.”
Ralph goes onto explain how these kinds of practises are not only enriching the learning experience for students, but changing the approach of teaching. Statistics show that 65% of us are visual learners and this type of engagement is essential to make learning easier.
Ralph continues: “I believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible with the use of video conferencing and visual engagement. We as a species are auditory. From the dawn of time it has been one story handed down from one generation to the next orally and it has transcended cultures everywhere. Text books have proven time and time again to not always be the most accurate. What could be more accurate than a leading expert in a particular field?”
But it doesn’t stop there. Video communications can be used to engage children and teachers in so many more ways than you can image. While children love Fieldtrips, unfortunately, due to budget, transportation and health and safety considerations, these are becoming a rare thing on a school curriculum. By using video communication, children could ‘visit’ a safari park in Africa or ‘see’ Icebergs in the Arctic – all without leaving the classroom.
For teachers the technology has endless possibilities. They can broadcast administrative updates and school news straight to the classroom over video rather than holding assemblies. Or, they can conduct remote parent-teacher meetings to help minimise scheduling conflicts, or host video staff meetings and provide a recorded session for those who are unable to attend the live meeting.
Of course, there is no substitute for seeing a person or a place in the flesh, but video communication could be an extremely valuable tool for a teacher and educators to enrich a child’s education. For any school that’s grappling with balancing its budget without compromising the quality of the education it delivers, 2020 could well be the year to embrace video communications and its many benefits.