The advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing in schools

In video conferencing terms, everything is bigger in India. When you have a population in excess of 1.3 billion, you need to take full advantage of all the communication methods you can access. That’s especially true when it comes to rolling out a common curriculum across thousands of schools.

The government of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, for example, will this month begin offering classes via video conferencing in more than 1,000 public schools. The classes will be staged at a central source in the capital city of Chennai and broadcast in real time, with live interaction from students across the state.

It’s a good example of the power that video conferencing has to reshape education in the coming decades. However, employing video in the classroom isn’t as simple as just seating students in front of a webcam. For all the promise of video conferencing, there are downsides as well.

To illustrate the complexity of this new educational technology, we’ve put together a list of the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing in schools.

Video conferencing room
PhotoCredit: Cisco.com

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Video Conferencing in Schools

Disadvantages:

  1. Less Personal Interaction
  2. Technical Issues Can Interfere with Lessons
  3. Ongoing Costs
  4. Separates the Haves and the Have-Nots

Advantages:

  1. Sharing Resources
  2. Learning Beyond the Classroom
  3. Creating Digital Citizens
  4. New Ways of Learning

Disadvantages:

1. Less Personal Interaction

The downside to having, say, one teacher in charge of teaching several classrooms of students via video conferencing is that it diminishes the opportunity for personal interaction. We’ll stand by the argument that video conferencing’s ability to combine audio and visuals in real-time conversation counts as personal interaction (we dealt with this question in our post on kid-friendly video chat apps), but when you’re faced with a revolving group of 20 to 30 students, there’s precious little time to work one-on-one with the kids. As a result, the danger is that video conferencing becomes a one-way medium, more like a seminar than a class, with scant time allowed for questions and comments from the students themselves, especially if the classes are conducted in large group formats.

2. Technical Issues Can Interfere with Lessons

Relying on video conferencing technology as the basis for learning brings with it a reliance on the hardware, software, and miles of internet connections that make it possible. If you’ve ever sat idle in a video meeting while someone tries to fix the audio or watched helplessly as your video link freezes and drops out, you’ll know there’s always a chance that digital gremlins will derail the entire process.

The same potential trouble lurks within a video meeting staged in a classroom. Only now, you’ve got a teacher struggling to keep the attention of two-dozen students as their lesson plan for the day falls apart.

3. Ongoing Costs

Video conferencing is composed of hardware and software that is in need of continual maintenance and upgrade, just like any other form of school equipment. Webcams and digital screens become obsolete as new technologies emerge–4K video conferencing, for example, is beginning to take hold at the commercial level but requires high-end bandwidth and cameras to be effective. Similarly, new video conferencing platforms with advanced features are released every year that bring new features to the classroom or emerge as the dominant service within a school district.

Of course, new features and capabilities are great, but they bring with them cost and the need for training, which can introduce a new burden to the school budget.

5. Separates the Haves and the Have-Nots

As with the advent of any new technology, there is always the danger that better-resourced communities will gain an advantage over their humbler neighbors. While the internet may seem like an essentially universal commodity, 72% of U.S. school districts don’t have connection speeds high enough to make internet-based learning experiences a central part of the curriculum. In fact, around 2.3 million students attend schools that don’t have reliable internet access at all.

If video conferencing and related technologies become dominant platforms for learning initiatives, there is a chance some students will be left behind.

Advantages:

1. Sharing Resources

The Indian example is a large-scale demonstration of how video conferencing can be used to leverage knowledge resources across schools. The expertise of specialist teachers and the non-core electives they teach can be shared across many schools regardless of their disparate locations. The labor cost can also be shared across institutions allowing expert lessons to be brought to areas that would otherwise not have the population or demand to justify their own courses.

A single teacher sitting in front of a webcam could remain in their office all week and reach out digitally to dozens of classroom and hundreds of students.

2. Learning Beyond the Classroom

Video conferencing is at heart a form of travel. It allows people separated by the tyranny of distance to share face-to-face conversation with the intimacy of friends sharing a park bench. In educational terms, that means using video to take students beyond the walls of the classroom without ever having to leave their desks. It offers the possibility of virtual field trips, conversational interactions with students in other states or nations, and visits to the locations of scientific and cultural investigation. It’s cheaper than any bus or plane trip, and there’s no way anyone gets lost or left behind.

3. Creating Digital Citizens

Students live in a digital world. Their home and social lives are far more likely than not to be littered with smartphones, computers, tablets, and on-demand resources. Central to any school curriculum is the need to prepare young people to participate in the adult world that awaits them after the final school bell rings. That means creating empowered and informed digital citizens who understand the dangers and benefits, the conventions and underlying technology that will govern their future employment and social interaction.

Video conferencing is rapidly growing in popularity and is likely to be a staple of most businesses and means of collaboration into the future. That means it’s important that students are exposed to it from a young age.

4. New Ways of Learning

Video conferencing is a relatively new form of communication and with it come opportunities for new ways of learning. We’ve already seen it employed to completely reverse the traditional educational model throughso-called flipped classrooms. This form of learning lets the student first encounter new material on their own, through online, peer-to-peer interaction, and leaves the teacher to offer more in-depth and personalized attention in the classroom.

Video conferencing also offers a more visual learning environment, one that pulls in other technologies such as film, online gaming, and interactive software-based tools. In this way, video conferencing in the classroom is quickly becoming an added feature that can transform solo learning into a conversational and cooperative experience.

Culled from  VCDAILY

 

Hackers take over Artificial Intelligence

Last year, two data scientists from security firm ZeroFOX conducted an experiment to see who was better at getting Twitter users to click on malicious links, humans or an artificial intelligence. The researchers taught an AI to study the behavior of social network users, and then design and implement its own phishing bait. In tests, the artificial hacker was substantially better than its human competitors, composing and distributing more phishing tweets than humans, and with a substantially better conversion rate.

The AI, named SNAP_R, sent simulated spear-phishing tweets to over 800 users at a rate of 6.75 tweets per minute, luring 275 victims. By contrast, Forbes staff writer Thomas Fox-Brewster, who participated in the experiment, was only able to pump out 1.075 tweets a minute, making just 129 attempts and luring in just 49 users.

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According Wikipedia, Cyber crime are crimes that use computer networks or devices to advance other ends include: Fraud and identity theft (although this increasingly uses malware, hacking and/or phishing, making it an example of both “computer as target” and “computer as tool” crime)

cyber crime
Photocredit: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber

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Data from the first four years of Kepler Space Telescope mission leads to the finding of Hundreds of New Exoplanets

NASA has unveiled the complete set of data from the first four years of the agency’s Kepler Space Telescope mission, which stared at a single patch of the sky in the search for alien planets. The result: Kepler has discovered 219 new candidates since NASA’s last data unveiling, including 10 near-Earth-size planet candidates in the so-called habitable zone around their stars where the conditions are just right for liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface — a key feature in the search for habitable worlds.

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While there are numerous prehistoric sites in Europe and Asia that contain tools and other human-made artefacts, skeletal remains of ancient humans are scarce. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have therefore looked into new ways to get hold of ancient human DNA. From sediment samples collected at seven archaeological sites, the researchers “fished out” tiny DNA fragments that had once belonged to a variety of mammals, including our extinct human relatives. They retrieved DNA from Neandertals in cave sediments of four archaeological sites, also in layers where no hominin skeletal remains have been discovered. In addition, they found Denisovan DNA in sediments from Denisova Cave in Russia. These new developments now enable researchers to uncover the genetic affiliations of the former inhabitants of many archaeological sites which do not yield human remains.

vindija cave
This is an entrance to the archaeological site of Vindija Cave, Croatia. Credit: MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology/ J. Krause

 

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INVENTION OF AUTOMOBILE

 

1923 Roll Royce
Photocredit: smithsonianmag 1923 Rolls-Royce featured in the May 1923 issue of Science and Invention

 

Although the blueprint for the modern automobile was perfected in Germany and France in the late 1800s, Americans dominated the industry in the first half of the twentieth century. Henry Ford innovated mass-production techniques that became standard, with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler emerging as the “Big Three” auto companies by the 1920s. Manufacturers funneled their resources to the military during World War II, and afterward automobile production in Europe and Japan soared to meet demand. Once vital to the expansion of American urban centers, the industry had become a shared global enterprise with the rise of Japan as the leading automaker by 1980.

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