K-12 School Computer Networking/Chapter 26
- 1 Using Videoconferencing in K-12 Schools
Using Videoconferencing in K-12 Schools
By S. Richardson
This is an exciting time in the history of K-12 Schools, with new learning technology emerging from every corner there is one that is entering the classroom at a rapid pace now which is video conferencing. Is it hard to imagine that students can travel to Japan school or a museum an engage with other students and a specialist in real-time discussion without leaving their classroom is a wonder thing? Is it? As educators today we must be committed to equip students today with skills and knowledge they will need to compete in the workforce and to prepare them for college. Student learning can be influenced in fundamental ways depending on the context in which it takes place and how it is translated. With video conferencing students will have access to wide range experiences and different ways of learning different topics. (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000) stated that a “community-centered approach requires the development of norms for the classroom and school, as well as connections to the outside world, that support core learning values”. The use of video conferencing can have strong effects on students learning and achievement. Students are able to collaborate with other students regionally, statewide, nationally and globally to foster understanding to different cultures and active learning. Teachers can use the technology as well to prompt professional development. The fact of the matter is now many schools can not afford to pay full-time teachers in rural schools. So, what is the next best thing schools are looking for you guessed it video conferencing as one of the forms for distance learning and a way to compete in the 21st century.
*Teacher Tude: Video conference in the classroom-Observation 
Here is a news video on the Alabamaschool system and how they are starting to use video conferencing in schools to teach courses within classes. What are big step for Alabama high school system and this initiative by the state hopefully will be welcome by all schools within the state.
Video conferencing is a live transmission feed using video and audio between two or more terminals for communication needs. Within any setting such as schools, the technology can be used in two different ways. Schools are able to do a one-way transmission or two-way transmission. The one-way (asynchronous) allow students to see and hear the teachers, but the teachers can not see the students. The two-way video in real-time (synchronous) allow students and teachers to see and hear each other simultaneously. Video conferencing will allow you to collaborate like never before over the network face-to-face communication with other schools and different locations of learning. Using video conference equipment is pretty easy once the equipment is setup and hooked up to the network. Here is a small check off list before having the video conference:
- Make sure to schedule the meeting in advance and no IT support is required.
- Keep in mind that launching the conference is as simple as making a conference phone call.
- Make sure that in-room controls are intuitive.
- Make sure collaboration applications are plugged in and working.
- If you plan to use any power point or video clip, make sure to test the feed before the video conference.
- Find out who will be connecting to whom.
- Provide your IP address or ISDN line to the connecting and make sure to get the same information from the other party.
- Make sure to have all contact information of the other party just in case you are having problems connecting.
- Do a test call before the meeting at least two to three days in advance that will give you enough time to fix any problems that may occur during the test.
Video conferencing is also known as (IVC) interactive videoconferencing. IVC is now becoming more available to educators. Video conferencing is still a developing area for K-12 education-schools have many systems to choose from and the cost of these systems has come down as well. The capabilities of the video conference system have increase very much over the 50 years since the technology was development. If educators are looking for more information about video conferencing, there is a book coming out on May 2009, by Camille Cole, Kecia Ray & Jan Zanetis (2009) called “Videoconferencing for K-12 Classrooms, Second Edition” for educators, district administrators, technology coordinators, and others.
What type of Network is needed?
Video conference can be transmitted in two different ways over IP (Internet Protocol) and ISDN (integrated services digital network) utilizing H.323 standards. A good speed to connect and start the videoconference unit is 384 or higher. The cheapest route for schools would be the IP. Even though the ISDN service gives the schools a dedicated link it can also be very costly to schools some units require you to have six ISDN lines for their systems. Most schools already have internet network so no additional installation maybe needed and they can build upon the strength of the existing infrastructure and if the infrastructure is up to par no special connections are needed. The quality of the videoconference when using IP will depend on the internet traffic at the time of use.
In an article by Jennifer Horton (2008), she talks about 3 types of systems that schools are using to do their video conferencing which will give you a better idea of what to expect in different schools. The integrated systems are portable units and desktop setups. According to Horton, (2008)
- Integrated systems are the most advanced setups and are generally used for more formal communication. The video conferencing equipment is incorporated into the classroom’s design and usually consists of several monitors for displaying video, multiple microphones to capture sound and top-of-the –line codec to deliver optimal quality. Portable units are less expensive than the integrated systems. These portable setups typically consist of the monitor; microphone, camera and other equipment loaded onto a rolling cart that can be transported to whichever classroom need it. Desktop setups are the cheapest method of video conferencing. This setup includes a PC, a small camera mounted on top, a microphone and software to perform the job of the codec.
The costs of each device have different price ranges. The cost of the desktop can cost as low as $300 source:IVCi, the cost of the set-up device which is the portable unit can range anywhere between $5000 to $10,000 source: IVCiand the last device which will cost schools more money than they are will to spend is the integrated codec and the price range from $10,000 to $100,000 source: IVCi.
After looking into several schools, it seems that most of the schools are using the portable units because they are able to move them from one classroom to another classroom. With the school budgets today, there has to be a medium for the schools to chose what will work better for them at the less cost out of pocket.
Diagram to Illustrate Videoconferencing
Tips When Using Video Conferencing
When using video conferencing in a classroom setting or any other setting one must be prepared and have done some advance preparation and testing in order to make the conference rewarding for the students. According to Jobe who quoted “Phil Stauder who uses videoconference extensively with his students at DuPont Hadley Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee, offers this advice.
- •Plan your conference for early in the day so the Internet is less congested.
- •Explain to everyone in your building that you need all the bandwidth you can get. Request they stay off-line during your scheduled conference.
- •Decide on the placement of students on camera. You will need to use an external microphone due to their distance from the computer.
- •Use a direct connection to your partner if possible. Experiment with their calling you and then your calling them; the connection may vary.
- •Do trial runs with your students, so everyone knows when to speak and when to listen. You might do this within your building; it is a great way to share problem-solving activities or to do a remote spelling bee.
- •Plan for the worst! If the server is down, postpone. Running your e-mail program in the background is a good idea, also having a telephone at your disposal with all the participants; numbers is helpful.
- •Beware of unexpected incoming hook-up requests when you are on-line; if students are present; choose not to answer incoming requests (Jobe, 1999).
When people get new technology they are so eager to start using it immediately, but with video conferencing it is not the best recommendation. Students or teachers can type in a site address without contacting the other site can expose students to undesirable content. Organization is everything.
Here are a few links with ideas and tools about using video conferencing within schools.
Benefits of using Video Conferencing
Videoconferencing has many benefits and advantages for students in K-12 classrooms. There is an article by Virginia Ewing (2005), which states “videoconferencing in the K-12 classroom is advantageous because it enhances the learning process, increases student motivation and participation, and encourages cultural diversity.” There are several benefits for using IVC which will be listed below and there are many more that will not be listed, but this will give you an idea.
- •IVC will bring experts otherwise may not have been available or accessible into the K-12 classrooms
- •It will appeal to students different learning styles
- •Different schools can collaborate with each to learn about each other’s cultures and background
- •IVC will help to improve communication and presentation skills of the students
- •IVC will open the minds of students to different location outside of their hometown and to think outside of the box
- •It will improve collaborations between schools and teachers
Many schools are using IVC to allow students to take courses that are not offered in their area and it also allows schools who cannot afford certain teachers such as Math and Science teachers to transmit lessons from other classrooms. Video conference provides equal access to high quality teachers to improve students’ achievement in the school district.
Regardless of delivery method, technology should:
- Encourage contact between students and faculty
- Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
- Use active learning techniques
- Give prompt feed back
- Emphasize time on task
- Communicate high expectations
- Respect diverse talents and ways to learning
(as cited in Beldarrain, 2006, p. 142). If teachers adhere to the seven principles, the implementation of video conferencing can be proactive which will benefit the learners and educators in classroom and outside the classroom.
Teachers will need or may have to rise above the standard way of teaching K-12 schools and start to embrace the benefits of using video conferencing as another pedagogy method. The use of video and audio to enhance student learning is such a broad scope and interesting concept to look into. It will be amazing to see how schools will start to incorporate video conferencing into each classroom. It will be an exciting thing and extraordinary for the students and teachers. The question now is how will existing educators within the school system adjust and welcome the new change? Will teachers start to feel threaten by technology as it slowly creeps into the schools? How will schools keep up with the new technology with the limited budget they are given. How often and how much will schools use video conferencing for educating students. With the way researchers are discovering new technology for learning, educators should be very excited about the future in education.
What did you learn?
Please answer the following questions to test your knowledge.
Multiple Choice Questions
- Do videoconference units us IDSN lines?
- What is a good speed for connection?
- What does LAN means?
a. Land address network
b. Local area network
- What does NAT stands for?
a. Network area transmission
b. Network address translation
True or False
- Video conferencing is used for a one-way signal only.
- To have a video conference one must have an IP address or ISDN lines.
- Is using an integrated system the best and cheapest way for K-12 schools.
- Video conferencing is also know as IVC.
Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27, 139-153.
Bransford, D. J., Brown, L. A. & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academy Press, 25.
Cole, C., Ray, K. & Zanetis, J. (2009). Videoconferencing for K-12 Classrooms, Second Edition.
Ewing, V. (2005). Advantages of Videoconferencing In The K-12 Classroom. NASA. http://www.distance-educator.com/dnews/modules.php?file=article&name=News&op=modload&sid=13828.
Horton, Jennifer. How Classroom Video Conferencing Works. 28 May 2008. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://communication.howstuffworks.com/classroom-video-conferencing.htm> 05 April 2009.
Jobe, H. (1999). Desktop Videoconferencing: Novelty or Legitimate Teaching Tool? Education World, http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr120.shtml.
True and False