by Leanna Holmquist, Contributing Writer
Loyalsock Township School District in Pennsylvania isn’t using tele-education technology – yet. I know this because my sister is a teacher there, as is her husband. My nephew is also a teacher, and their youngest son will finish college soon and there’s a good possibility that he may become a teacher, as well.
Due to the high incidence of educators in my family, education is a frequent topic of conversation around the dinner table. One thing we often talk about is how teachers can use technological innovations, such as video conferencing, to help improve education and communicate with students more effectively than ever before.
For example, the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) is “connecting the world through learning.” The organization works in over 80 countries to deliver customized learning solutions to people around the world, boasting more than 500 access points. They achieve this reach through internet-based learning as well as multi-point video conferencing.
By leveraging this technology, GDLN has supported an array of initiatives that are improving people’s lives across the globe. Notably, the network helped a group of women in Tanzania create their own national Chamber of Commerce, which now has 2,000 members. They also helped the government of Nicaragua create an emergency response plan to the avian flu threat.
Another story that inspired me recently regarding the use of video technology in education came from an article by Janice Youngwith on how technology is helping children deal with autism in school. Youngwith gives some pertinent background on autism and explains that it affects more than 1.5 million Americans and their families. This particular disability affects normal brain function, as well as developmental abilities and social behavior. Individuals with autism often have difficulty relating to others in traditional ways and are prone to restricted and repetitive behavior.
According to the article, “parents, educators and families with children on the autism spectrum are desperate for solutions and resources to help develop cognitive, communication and social skills,” says Mary Beth Delaney, a special education teacher and certified speech pathologist. “But the technology previously available to support those needs often was expensive and limited in use,” she said.
Delaney has had success with her autistic students using iPod® and iPad® technology. The students respond to the personal and interactive learning environment the devices provide. They can use them to stream educational sessions via video conferencing technology and use educational apps to learn specific skills (note: click here to learn how LifeSize can help you access all types of video communication on your own iPhone, iPad or iPod). The touch-screen technology reportedly enhances hand-eye coordination and communication skills for many autistic students. It also helps the students build social skills as they use the devices to work with other students or their teachers to complete projects.
Other educational institutions have found similar benefits from LifeSize technology. For example, the collegiate school at the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota uses LifeSize with its students, also via iPods and iPads, as shown in the photograph to the right. Along with improving its students’ quality of education, the school was also able to cut $2 million from its annual budget. To read the entire case study of SCF, click here.
Finally, LifeSize customer Globe University/Minnesota School of Business uses video technology to stream nursing classes and enable students to watch surgical procedures and medical treatments in high definition without having to do watch through a two-way mirror, as was previously the case. Now, future nurses are able to receive even more training and interact with doctors and professors in new and exciting ways. To learn more about Globe University’s LifeSize implementation and the surprising benefits they experienced, visit this link.
Video conferencing and video streaming technology helps bridge the gap across different time zones and learning abilities, creating a more inclusive space for education. This gives educators the tools to reach out to students and help them prepare for the future, by bringing the world to the classroom and vice-versa. Just a few more ways video conferencing technology is improving the way we learn.