For some students, being able to travel and visit other countries for fun or study is impossible either because of finances, schedules, or prior commitments. Not all students are afforded the luxury of studying abroad either because of monetary reasons or time commitments. Many majors don’t have a program with courses available at other schools even within the United States, much less in another country. Luckily video conferencing is changing how students are able to learn and experience other cultures.
Students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are been able to interact with students around the world without leaving their school. High Schools in Pittsburgh have recently participated in the World Affairs Council which included a video conference clinic that connected them with schools in Taiwan and South Africa. Students at all three locations were able to experience something they wouldn’t have been able to do without video: meet and discuss everyday life with someone from a completely different culture and part of the world. At first a few basic topics were discussed such as the length of schools days, but many other aspects were discussed such as the day-to-day challenges each student faced at school and home. The Pittsburgh students were intrigued to learn that even though these teens were on the other side of the world they faced the same hardships and issues that they did.
Video conferencing in education has been used in a variety of situations. A common way schools are using this is to easily create an “immersive language program” for students. It is very rare that an average high school student will have the freedom and financial capabilities to spend any length of time in a foreign country to learn a foreign language. Through video they are able to converse with students in France, Spain, Mexico, Germany, China or Japan for no personal cost or having to take time away from their other studies.
While the ability to travel may elude some students, the benefits of video conferencing in schools are numerous. Not only is it allowing students to experience other languages, cultures and lifestyles without having to travel, it is allowing seldom taught classes with low enrollment on the brink of “extinction” to pull students from around the district into one virtual classroom. It is also allowing popular classes with only one or two available professors to reach even more auditoriums and students by hosting lectures over video.