Videoconferencing as a Teaching Tool

Table of Content

In 1994, Congress adopted the Improving America’s Schools Act and a subsequent appropriation that envisaged $45 million to improve the application of educational technology in American schools (Johnston & Barker, 2002, p.

5). As the result of the following five years, this sum had been increased to $765 million; therefore, in the light of increasing funding, Congress requested more convenient evidence that would justify such significant investments.Since then, researchers dedicated their efforts to find out and bring to life the numerous benefits of video onferencing as a technology having all prospects to become a fully-recognized teaching tool. As a result of these strivings, video teaching has become acknowledged at the highest levels.

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For instance, in North Carolina’s Technology Competencies for Educators, which is an extremely specific set of standards, demonstrates that the telecommunications skills of teachers, including the use of effective distance learning, desktop video conferencing, and teleteaching technologies, are crucial for learning (Bielefeldt, 2002, p. 23).To speak specifically about the benefits of videoconferencing as a teaching tool, which ere highlighted at the root of the scientific concerns focused on this subject matter, it is worth highlighting that they can be categorized according to their general and specific impacts. To begin with the general advantages, in 1998, Hearnshaw (p.

52) conducted research in which he highlighted that videoconferencing is an effective tool for supporting distance learning by linking up students and tutors as well as for offering means of reassurance and social contact for students.Moreover, it can be used as a great benefit for schools wanting to increase the degree to hich their students utilize technologies and the communication skills of their students, as well as to give their students worthwhile opportunities to present their own work and ideas to an audience outside their immediate peers (Gage et al. , 2002). Therefore, the fact that video teaching envisages various positive implications has gained a significant scholarly justification.

Specifically, these effects also were reviewed from the perspective of their direct relation to both students and teachers. For instance, video conferencing allows collaborating with schools here pupils belong to different cultures, which, in turn, leads to the establishment of the multicultural relationships and mutual understanding (Cifuentes & Murphy, 2000, p. 69). Simultaneously, it appears as an effective tool that allows interacting with native speakers and as a result, improves a student’s knowledge of languages (Kinginger, 1998, p.

502).Moreover, considering the direct input of video teaching, research has revealed that it contributes as an alternative outlet for expression by those normally hampered by poor literacy skills (Eales et al. , 1999). Finally, it is worth mentioning the research dedicated to investigating videoconferencing from the perspective of students with special education needs.

Among numerous benefits, it has been emphasized that it helps students overcome the feeling of isolation as well as develop essential social skills by interacting with peers who have similar needs (Thorpe, 1998, p. 95).Along with the benefits for students, the research dedicated its efforts to reveal the impact of videoconferencing on teachers, who can use video conferencing to motivate their students, providing them with the positive role models. For instance, the research conducted by Cifuentes and Murphy demonstrated that academic aspirations are raised amongst those students communicating with more assured students (Cifuentes & Murphy, 2000, p.

69).In addition, the above-mentioned research highlighted that videoconferencing allows increasing the audience of the course as well. Also, the other important point emphasized by the research is that video conferencing is a useful tool on the road to achieving a better relationship between students and teachers, as students feel more comfortable when communicating by distance, which, in turn, esults in more frank interactions (Sharpe et al. , 2000, p.

61).Therefore, it is clear that in light of active governmental funding, the topic of the teaching benefits of video conferencing did not lack the attention of scholars, simultaneously glossing over the fact that it also can have negative impacts or some pitfalls. However, in 1996, Moore and Kearsley mentioned that the lack of mobility, face-to-face contact, and sound activation delays contribute to the appearance of a “transactional distance” that embodies both physical and sychological effects that must be overcome by the instructor and students (Moore & Kearsley, 1996, p. 00).

As a follow up, in 1999, Thomas Atkinson also raised the issue of possible limitations of video conferencing as a teaching tool, presenting in-depth research on this subject. Another study revealing the possible challenges of videoconferencing is the article presented by Gillies in 2008, which states that perceived issues of the videoconference in educational settings can be summarized as relating primarily to issues of flexibility and pedagogy.The category “flexibility” refers to the fundamental problem of videoconferencing that is based on the inflexible reliance on technology, while the pedagogical challenges may stem from the limited way in which the videoconferencing can be perceived (Gillies, 2008, p. 109).

All in all, the above-mentioned works serve as the basis for the position arguing that interactive videoconferencing creates the environment that requires both students and teachers to adapt in a specific manner in order to avoid negative and unpredictable outcomes.Naturally, the opic of the adaptability to video conferencing technologies as a major variable defining its efficiency as the teaching tool has become the center of current research in this field. Theory Relevant to Research Questions/Hypotheses The research relies on two learning theories: Behaviorism and the Social Cultural Learning Theory. To begin with Behaviorism, it is the theory that focuses its attention on the field of human behavior that is defined by the stimulus-response associations established in the learner’s mind (Skinner, 1957).

In such a context, behaviorists consider that prior conditioning nd psychological drives existing at the moment of an action are those factors that determine the behavior of the individual (Parkay & Hass, 2000). Moreover, behaviorists consider that only the behaviors that can be observed are worth studying; therefore, the actions but not inner or mental processes are the relevant objects of study (Faryadi, 2007, p. 2). This theory finds its multidimensional application in the field of videoconferencing as a teaching tool.

For instance, using the example provided by Paderanga (2013, p. 114), during videoconferencing, the student is rovided with the opportunity to speak in front of the camera if he or she answers a situational question correctly. In this case, the question is a stimulus, the student’s answer is the response, and the opportunity to speak in front of camera is the reinforcer. Analogically, while assessing the benefits and disadvantages of videoconferencing, the behaviorist perspective requires taking into account only those aspects that can be proven with available scientific methods.

Simultaneously, the behaviorist perspective also proposes the specific method of eliciting etter classroom performance, which is called Behavior Modification, which refers to “learning with a particular intent, namely change” (Ullmann & Krasner, 1965; p. 1). This approach envisages six essential components, which are the specification of the desired outcome, development of a positive environment, identification and use of appropriate reinforcers, reinforcement of behavior patterns, reduction in the frequency of rewards, and evaluation and assessment of the effectiveness of the approach (Parkay & Hass, 2000).Using this method while mplementing videoconferencing seems especially justified while assessing its pros and cons as well as the cause-and-effect relationship.

The second theoretical framework that informs the research is the Social Cultural Learning Theory, which focuses its attention on the links between the social world and cognitive development from the perspective defined by Lev Vygotsky (1998).The theory considers not only the impacts of the interpersonal relationship between teacher and students, but also a broader socio-cultural influence on learning and the learning environment (Lantoff, 2008). In this context, the concept of culture has a significantly broad meaning, covering socially-accepted behaviors, beliefs, and generally, interactions as the products of human development (Shabani, 2016, p. 5).

Simultaneously, Vygotsky (as cited in Veer, 1996) considers that culture itself influences human mental functioning and behavior; therefore, humans not only create their culture, but also are impacted by it, being the products of culture as well. One of the most significant insights found out as the result of Vygotsky’s work states that ocial interaction is the basis of learning and development, and learning itself appears as a process of internalization in which skills and knowledge are transformed from the social into the cognitive plane (Walqui, 2006, p. 0).Putting this idea into the context of videoconferencing as a teaching tool, it is worth mentioning that it highlights the benefits of student-centered teaching, whereby the student can efficiently progress within their potential towards a learning outcome (as cited in Alpay, n.

d. ). What is the role of the teacher in this case is that he or she should ppear as a role model, demonstrating the behavior needed to be employed by the students through the internationalization of the information and using it to guide their own behavior.Performing this role could be done utilizing the model of professional development consisting of seven types, which are training, observation/assessment, mentoring, inquiry/action, individuallyguided activities, and involvement in a development process and study groups (Guskey, 2000).

As a result, the above-mentioned theories present two different perspectives on learning nd therefore, enrich the research with relevant ideas regarding the effects of videoconferencing as a teaching tool.From one side, the behaviorist perspective provides a vision to make it clear how to use videoconferencing to achieve its benefits. Simultaneously, from the other side, the Social Cultural Learning Theory provides insights into how teachers should behave in order to avoid the unpredictable outcomes mentioned by Moore, Kearsley, Atkinson, and other authors that dedicated their works to reveal the negative effects and possible pitfalls of videoconferencing.

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