5 Ways To Use Live Video In Your Classroom

The internet has transformed the way in which we teach, but also created its fair share of distractions. According to Pew Research Center, 24 percent of teens are online ‘almost constantly’, due in large part to the wide availability of cutting-edge phones. If you have gotten sick of telling students to put their smartphones away during class, you may curse the internet from time to time.

Still, despite these irritations, the ease of online access stands to make educating your students easier than ever. One of the most effective resources available to you and your students? Live video communications.

This is incredibly popular among today’s American teens, with 47 percent using it on a regular basis. By incorporating this into your classes, you can maximize student-engagement, make lessons more interactive, and help them to learn using channels they are more comfortable with.

Here are five ways you can use live video in your classroom to improve your lessons.

Collaborating with Schools Around the World

Video chat enables you to connect your classroom to others across the country – and the wider world.

Today, the internet has helped the world grow smaller, and we can learn about other cultures within just a few clicks. This speed and convenience extends to live video, too.

Using a video-chat platform, you can bring your students together with those on the other side of the world (assuming you can avoid time-zone problems). This is a powerful way to get first-hand knowledge of how global politics, cultural differences, and conflicts affect people their own age.

Not only is this more engaging and honest than the video they see on the news, it allows students to ask the questions they want to. Working together, your class and others can exchange ideas and discuss their diverse perspectives in an open way.

You can create projects in partnership with these schools and encourage the students to collaborate, pooling their shared knowledge to complete tasks together.

Bringing Guest Speakers into your Classroom

Inviting guests into your classroom to speak with students is a great way to make past events or unfamiliar concepts easier to relate to. However, this is often easier said than done. Scheduling conflicts, costs for travel and accommodation, and simply finding the right person willing to visit can be complicated.

Live video solves many of these difficulties. Your guest speakers have no need to travel, need only take a little time out of their schedules, and can engage with students at their own convenience. All they need is a stable connection to ensure audio and visual clarity.

However, when connecting with guest speakers on the other side of the world, perhaps in remote locations, you need the best service available.

Tony Zhao, CEO of video-chat company Agora.io, elaborates on the problems posed by a weak infrastructure:

Bringing guests with vital experience and knowledge into your classroom is a terrific aid to learning, but you need to invest in the best quality to avoid problems. While dips in sound and loss of visuals are less of an issue during personal calls, in the classroom when you may be conversing with experts and professionals, every second counts and if the video connection is weak or choppy, it’ll become frustrating for everyone involved. This is especially true when communicating with those who may be in remote locations or countries with a weak internet infrastructure, where using technology that handles these issues is paramount for a great and fluid experience.

Taking Your Students on Virtual Field Trips

Taking students on field trips allows you to make concepts and events more real. Museums, historical sites, cultural landmarks, and more are all common points of interest. However, visiting these can be expensive, requires a lot of planning, hinges on parental consent, and raises safety concerns.

Live video makes virtual field trips a much more viable alternative. You can take your classes on a guided, interactive tour of a specific location, allow them to speak with experts, and learn without having to bury their heads in the same old textbooks.

One of the most impressive virtual field-trip programs today is the Smithsonian’s free videoconferencing program, while the Ohio Center of Science and Industry also caters to students brilliantly.

Engaging with Parents at your Mutual Convenience

Finding the time to speak with parents can be difficult. If they work full-time, scheduling a phone call or meeting with them at your school may be problematic, requiring compromise on both sides.

However, with live video you can host virtual meetings at your shared convenience. Videoconferencing allows you to speak with one or more parents in an intimate way, without anyone having to leave work, negotiate traffic, or take valuable time out of their schedule.

Maximizing Student Safety at all Times

Live video stands to improve student safety both in school and field trips. Setting up a connection between your classroom and the school office enables students to speak with other faculty or administrators in an emergency, or without needing to leave class.

Outside the classroom, live video enables students to remain connected to supervising teachers if they become separated. If the student is lost or unable to tell where they are, the teacher may be able to identify their surroundings or guide them back to the group. Speaking face-to-face will also serve to keep the student calm should they be in need of comfort.

Live video chat may well have been the stuff of fiction once upon a time, but it’s now becoming just another part of everyday life. You can use this to increase student engagement, take them on virtual field trips, introduce them to diverse cultures, and stay in regular contact with parents.

Have you considered just how effective live video may be in your classroom? Discuss it with your administrators to go over what options your school has to consider.

JT Ripton is tech and business writer for several sites like BusinessInsider.com, Entpreneur.com, TechRadar.com. He loves to write to educate, and likes to break down complex ideas into simple ones, that any one can understand. You can follow JT on Twitter @JTRipton