Oakwood teacher Frederick Cheney likes video conferencing because it allows him to broaden his teaching repertoire and enhance his delivery.
“This is because of the diverse array of tools built into the technology itself,” says Frederick. “Whether it is multiple screens, zoom function, audio, or data display, video conferencing technology provides an array of delivery options to keep students engaged in learning.”
Like a lot of teachers new to VC, Frederick says there were issues. However, he was expecting that to be the case and says that the positive outcomes outweigh any initial misgivings.
“Teaching via VC can seem a little challenging, especially if you're a bit of a Luddite like me,” he says. “Like all modern technology, VC is periodically susceptible to power outages and other technical issues.
Yet, none of the problems associated with VC are insurmountable. Once one has learnt one's way around practical applications of the technology a VC classroom starts to feel like, and function much the same as, a regular classroom. It also has the added benefit of being able to teach students, or liaise with staff that are at a considerable geographical remove.”
Frederick also believes that as well as having some practical teaching benefits, VC teaches students life skills that some might not learn in tradition learning environments.
“Students in a VC classroom have to function as more independent learners, depending on the direct level of supervision,” says Frederick. “VC will tend to go hand-in-hand with an increased level of email use and the application of Canvas and similar programs, because at such a geographic remove these technologies are vital for keeping the paths of communication open and active. Being digital natives, students tend very much to take innovations like VC in their stride.”
While he believes most students are self-motivated, he says that as a teacher he will make an extra effort to meet a student in person if the opportunity presents itself.
“I would definitely recommend that teachers using VC make the effort to meet their students in person at least once a term,” he says. “VC cannot function as a proxy for such interpersonal links, but with a sound foundation, it can certainly enhance and maintain them.”
Any advice to teachers who are thinking of looking to VC as a teaching tool?
“Don't be afraid of the technology!” he says. “After some minimal tuition, video conferencing is a good teaching and learning tool.”