The COVID-19 pandemic hit the education system hard in 2020. It forced all schools to adapt a virtual learning system to replace face-to-face interactions. As the world scrambled to prepare for the transition, one tool quickly became the center of education—video conferencing.
Many schools already had some form of electronic procedure for grading, attendance, and assignment submissions. In-person schools took notes from online schools to completely adopt their methods for virtual learning. Video conferencing became the primary way teachers and students connected. The rest depended on an electronic system for other elements of teaching.
Early on, virtual education experienced issues with the technology used to host classes. Some of those issues included:
- Poor internet connection
- Overloaded servers
- Lack of knowledge in technology
- Glitches or errors in software
These had to be ironed out as virtual education became normal. However, frustrated parents, teachers, and students struggled to cope with the sudden change in teaching methods. Even online classes with students from all over the world began to experience problems with overloaded servers as more teaching became virtual. Once the main problems were addressed, things got easier.
Benefits of Video Conferencing
Education systems were left with little to no alternatives for virtual learning, but video conferencing—both in education and the workplace—still grew in popularity. People realized the benefits that this teaching tool could bring. Some of those are:
- Connectivity to people and places all over the world
- Virtual field trips at little to no cost
- Flexibility in teaching methods (i.e. more tools available)
- Comfortability for some people to learn or teach from their own homes
- Have guest speakers attend virtual classes
- Options for one-on-one video instruction
With video conferencing, teachers could share their computer screens. This allowed them to show educational videos in real-time, sketch examples on virtual dry erase boards and display PowerPoint presentations directly to the entire class. Most of these tools previously took some time to set up in classrooms, but they were available quickly with the click of a few buttons with the conferencing software. Options like those were integrated into video conferencing systems for that very purpose.
Popular Video Conferencing Tools
Schools established relationships with major companies in their shift to virtual education. The most popular video conferencing software teachers could use are:
- Google Hangouts
Often, teachers were forced to use the sites designated to them by the schools. This did prove to be a problem for teachers who were unaccustomed to the platforms or not technology-savvy. To combat those obstacles, schools and the conferencing sites they coordinated with added services like extra tech support, a library of how-tos and guides on using the software, and updating their sites frequently.
Many teachers, students, and parents still struggle with the adapted education system a year later. However, the resources that are now available to make video conferencing and virtual learning simpler or easily accessible are vast. The continued use of video conferencing isn’t likely to slow down in the education system since it has become an advantage for a large percentage of students.