VisionK12StudentsTodayWhat do an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee and a World War II museum in New Orleans have in common? Videoconferencing programs that students can watch from anywhere in the world.

In Hohenwald, Tenn., there is an amazing elephant sanctuary where elephants who have been in circus and side shows go to retire. It is a non-profit organization supported by grants and donations, and if you would like to get a glimpse of these majestic elephants living out their retirement, you can! Another amazing place to visit is the World War II museum in New Orleans that’s full of artifacts and stories from the war, and the docents are real war heroes. These two institutions offer students access to their elephants and artifacts with a simple camera and connection to the Internet. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration has many more programs available via videoconferencing, and so does TWICE. These resources are full of opportunities for students and teachers to connect to experts for real-life, real-time content.

Why should teachers use videoconferencing, you may ask? For starters, video is becoming a preferred way to obtain information. And videoconferencing makes video interactive so that students can connect with people around the globe — people who can offer expertise on a project or provide deeper content than what students may find in their text or classroom instructional tools. Videoconferencing isn’t as hard as it used to be to incorporate into your classroom and is certainly one of the most engaging technology uses out there. It’s worth overcoming obstacles to have a video-rich, interactive extension of learning in your classroom.

But videoconferencing isn’t the only way to introduce video in your classroom — plenty of platforms allow teachers to produce their own videos and post them. Some are available at no charge, while others require a fee. Flipped learning is all about posting videos of your lecture to reduce lecture time and increase engagement time when you are in the presence of the students, and there are plenty of tools to select from. Using video for professional development is becoming popular as well because it enables faculty to review content on their own time and at their own pace. There are thousands of resources to incorporate video into your classroom without producing the video yourself. Khan Academy and YouTube channels are just a few samples of free resources you can use.

Because video is a huge bandwidth consumer, however, it’s important to check with the IT department if you’re considering introducing video into your classrooms or professional learning programs. IT departments can dedicate bandwidth for video if they know it’s something you’re prioritizing.

The IT department also can help you select the right device if you plan to introduce videoconferencing or video tools. Camera-enabled devices are a necessity for using video, and unless a cloud solution is used, students may need special software on their computers in order to participate in a video conference or view a video.

Here are three key things to remember before incorporating video:
1.select an easy to use video solution for teachers and students;
2.make sure you have addressed bandwidth needs before the video lesson is delivered; and
3.make sure students and teachers have the right device to have a high quality experience. If you follow these simple reminders, you should have a great video-rich lesson!