Term Paper: Videoconferencing K-12

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Videoconferencing K-12

Purpose of Videoconferencing

The purpose of Interactive Videoconferencing (IVC) is to bring the world into the classroom. When rising gas and transportation costs keep students immobile, the students may invite the site they wished to visit onto their classroom video screen and listen to an expert guide talk about what they are seeing. When students wish to learn about mathematics they have their choice of playing interactive math games onscreen with other students, watching animated educational films about math, or researching math-related sites on their own. IVC brings these capabilities into the K-12 classroom.

The value of IVC has been studied by education experts intensively and the libraries and internet is replete with information concerning such study results. Controversy over whether IVC is better than traditional learning procedures and techniques abounds. But evaluations of the educational benefits of IVC have brought a new awareness of its benefits. Sharing information, learning materials, communicating new techniques and curricula, accessing learning opportunities, all benefit the student, the instructor and the institutions in which they teach.

Research on videoconferencing

Interactive Videoconferencing (IVC) is a relatively new phenomenon which began to be used widely in 1991, though it has been available since the 1950s (Anderson, p. 5). While IVC is available on Internet 2 Middleware to all schools, content comes from an enormous variety of private, public and educational areas, such as cultural institutions, research centers, small businesses, museums and hospitals, all offering a wide range of programming (Klingenstein video clip, p. 1). IVC equipment has been too expensive in the past to allow the average local school to purchase and adopt a plan for its use, but costs are going down and more schools are using it (Lundgren, p. 3).

Rapid changes in technology-based knowledge and communication means that students, though they may be familiar with the technology, are going to need to know how to use it as they work to solve complex problems, to access, evaluate and communicate information better, to collaborate with others in a diverse group and realize that they belong to a global community (Berge, p. 5). When technologically skilled teachers integrate technology, such as IVC, into use in the classroom, constructivist practices emerge, wherein teachers facilitate learning and students feel that they are able to share ideas and learn more practical skills (Rakes, p. 15). However, unless teachers are trained in technology as a part of their basic preparation, teachers have heretofore lacked in skills related to this important part of their training (Moore, para. 5).

The current IVC technology opens doors which have been closed, including open communication in the United States between parents, teachers and students on a level impossible heretofore (Greenberg, p. 11). Site visits for field trips and planning for such trips and activities may be done through e-mail, cellphones and videos about the site (Merrick Videoconferencing, para 5). A new program called Sweden-Silicon Valley Link ties universities with "virtual classrooms" into an infrastructure with joint curricula and communication between universities (Guice, p. 15). Educators in the K-12 arena are linking into these supplemental resources, enabling students to interact with normally inaccessible experts (Merrick 2005, p. 1). It is hoped that the IVC medium will develop easily accessible resources to support planning for IVC, so that local K-12 educational institutions may identify and use all the relevant sites in teaching students (Heath, p. 13). Guest lectures from experts from everywhere in the globe is the result of IVC in the classroom (Luck, p. 15).

When the microcomputer was first being used in the 1980s, people felt it was interesting, but unusable. Today, the same is true with IVC. A meaningful, instructional environment in today's school is contingent upon up-to-date technology (Silverman video, p. 1). Screens, trolleys, training for teachers and other peripheral costs are necessary to utilize the equipment. A new context for learning is being built in the K-12 classroom with a wide variety of equipment being involved, including fiberoptics, satellite telecommunications services and multi-site VC units (Koalakowalski video, p. 1).

Discussion of Videoconferencing

Though there is a controversy over the traditional methods of teaching, versus the methods which the new technology presents, it is becoming evident that traditional methods may mix well with interactive videoconferencing. Studies have shown that distance education via IVC resulted in positive effects in achievement at least comparable to traditional instruction and often exceeding it (Cavanaugh, p. 16).

There are those who believe that technology is not the answer to better learning on the part of students and there is truth in this stance (Clark, p. 1044). Learning has nothing to do with the technology, but rather upon whether the student retains the knowledge presented or not. Current trends emphasize "teaching to the test," and standardized accomplishment of reading, writing and 'rithmetic skills (Merrick When, p. 2). Sustaining data is the goal and, testing and teacher accountability notwithstanding, teachers may find the means to accomplish learning through finding innovative ways to introduce it to the students. One innovative way to do this is through IVC (Dell, p. 5).

Whether one is in favor of IVC or not, the advantages of teaching with IVC necessitates a good look at the new frontier that teachers are facing in the K-12 years. Technology is the wave of the future, for teaching and in the workplace, where today's students will eventually end up. It is up to the institutions who prepare the students for these jobs to familiarize pupils with the full range of possibilities of which this technology is capable. Teachers may balk at the supposed barriers that are presented and presume that they must be technological wizards in order to utilize the equipment. However, IVC is not difficult to use or to learn. As a matter of fact, most children born after 1981 have had hands-on experience with the basic tools and, if the teacher becomes simply a facilitator, giving the children access and some guidance as to sites and their content, the teacher does not need to be an expert in technical areas. With a workshop and some on-going tips, most teachers are able to guide students to achieve their goals of communicating and accessing information.

The equipment is the primary barrier that appears when there is objection to IVC and other technologies being used in the schools. Lack of training in technical subjects must be addressed (Giuliani, p. 1681). Fear of technology, the upkeep of the equipment and the time it takes to learn new skills are other barriers, as is cost of equipment for stressed institutions.

Each of the factors addressed above may be overcome if the stakes are high enough. There are solutions to each barrier listed. Grants are available from various sources to overcome training needs, cost of equipment and fear of technology (Lundgren, p. 7). Providing access to technical support will solve many of the barriers related to fear, upkeep and training. Time constraints present a difficult problem, but schools are learning that it is worth their while to give teachers time to train and learn new skills which will give them an edge in this field.

Conclusion Regarding Videoconferencing

Interactive Videoconferencing is the wave of the future and knowledge of technology and skill in its use will be a crucial part of each child's on-going success in life, from the basic learning of traditional subjects to the ability to cope with technological advances in a job when they complete their schooling. IVC presents unlimited access to experts, information and learning sites and methods for students in the schools in which it is used. Though it is new and intimidating, it is also exciting and presents new ways of learning and accessing knowledge for today's students.


Anderson, T., & Rourke, L. (2005). Videoconferencing in Kindergarten-to-Grade 12 Settings: A Review of the Literature. Retrieved December 3, 2007, at http://www.vcalberta.ca/community/litreview.pdf

Berge, Z., & Collins, M. (1998). Wired Together: Computer-mediated Communication in K-12. Volume 1. Retrieved December 6, 2007, at http://www.emoderators.com/books/k12bk1.html

Cavanaugh, C. (2001). The Effectiveness of Interactive Distance Education Technologies in K-12 Learning: A Meta-Analysis. Retrieved December 4, 2007, at http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/17/92/bd.pdf

Clark, R (2006). Media Will Never Influence Learning. Educational Technology Research and Development. 42, 21-29. Retrieved December 2, 2007, at http://www.springerlink.com/content/681t5680047393j5/

Dell, L. (2002). Connecting K-12 and Higher Ed. Retrieved December 5, 2007, at http://www.oln.org/conferences/OLN2002/pdf/delloln.pdf.

Giuliani, J. (2001). Identification of salient features of videoconferencing instruction (Doctoral dissertation, Northern Illinois University, 2001). Dissertation Abstracts International, 642(05), 1681.

Greenberg, a. (2005, June). Taking the Wraps off Videoconferencing in the U.S. Classroom: A State-by-State Analysis. Wainhouse Research. Retrieved December 5, 2007, at http://www.wrplatinum.com/downloads/5912.aspx

Guice, J. (1997). Rethinking the Wired Classroom: An International Video-Conferencing Experiment. Interpersonal Computing and Technology: An Electronic Journal for the 21st Century (5). Retrieved December 5, 2007, at http://www.emoderators.com/ipct-j/1997/n4/guice.html

Heath, M. (2002). K-12 Interactive Videoconferencing: A Literature Review. Retrieved December 4, 2007, at http://neirtec.terc.edu/k12vc/resources/litpolicy.pdf

Klingenstein, K. (2002). Online Video Clip. Interactive Videoconferencing in K-12 Settings a National Symposium for Practitioners.

Retrieved October 6, 2007, at http://neirtec.terc.edu/k12vc/symposium/speakers.cfm

Koalakowalski (2007). Online Video Clip. Video… [END OF PREVIEW]

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