Education experts have long recognized the power of visual aids in effective instruction. Students are more likely to remember what they see than what they only hear or read. It’s therefore quite surprising that webcams haven’t found as much use in education as they should despite being available for decades.
Live webcams in combination with the right headsets (see our favorite budget gaming headsets) can bring to life a remote location or event. Not only can teachers rely on webcams to share captivating content with their students but students too can use video to submit assignments. The following are some practical tips on using webcams for education.
The Travel Experience
Travel has an unrivalled ability to expand knowledge, inspire imagination, grow curiosity and advance sophistication. Persons who travel regularly often have a more holistic and balanced view of the world. Nevertheless, travel is expensive as it requires spending on transportation, accommodation and meals.
Use webcams to give students the experiences that come with travel without the need for them to leave their city, state or country. They can see places as diverse as outer space, the deep sea, the polar regions and famous landmarks.
Thanks to webcams, you are no longer limited to a static conversation about an object. Live streaming provides a more dynamic view. For instance, it’s all good to discuss the behaviour of an animal. How much better would it be to discuss it in the context of a live video showing animals in their natural habitat, zoo or aquarium?
Students can ask specific questions on the fly that aren’t necessarily limited to what they read in books or studied in class. A particular type of movement, feeding behaviour or territorial instinct could be better explained and understood when it is seen in action.
Stream Recorded Video
An instructor can only be at one place at a time and they only have limited class time with students. Webcams can expand a teacher’s reach and the overall amount of teaching time they can deliver.
They could, for instance, create and stream brief videos that students watch days before they come to class. The content of the video may include lab demonstrations, math solutions, explanation of difficult concepts or foundational principles of a topic.
When the students eventually gather in the classroom, they’ll have the background knowledge necessary to understand the topic and ask the right questions.
Follow Events That Are Hard to Attend
Webcams can give you a real-time view of locations and events halfway around the world. But there also activities within your vicinity that are best experienced through a webcam. Such activities are either impossible to attend in person or provide much better learning when viewed from close quarters.
Think about an unprecedented rock climb, a sailing expedition in the open seas or the hatching of turtle eggs. Webcams could also be useful in observing extreme weather events such as volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and floods that one cannot safely approach.
Practice Public Speaking
Some people seem to be natural born public speakers. For most individuals though, public speaking is a skill honed over time and with plenty of practice. Speaking in front of a group can be a source of anxiety. Even performing artists who have decades of experience often talk about how nervous they are each time they step on the stage.
Webcams can serve as a fairly safe space for students to nurture and perfect their art of public speaking. Whereas they will still be speaking to a sizeable audience, they won’t have to deal with the overwhelming feeling of butterflies in your stomach that comes with standing in front of a crowd.
Many events take place over a matter of hours or days. However, there are certain processes in life that run over the course of several weeks or months. Often, such processes are fairly complex and have several distinct phases that students need to understand. A time-lapse sequence could help.
For example, if you want to teach your class about weather patterns, plant growth or building construction, a time-lapse sequence via a webcam could be useful in demonstrating the different phases of the full process cycle.
When students are sitting an exam, the traditional approach has been to have a teacher or supervisor present to ensure that students do not obtain any prohibited assistance from their colleagues or refer to notes without permission.
Webcams can enhance supervision by allowing the instructor to keep an eye on classroom activity without necessarily being present in class. It could be relied on alone or combined with a physically present supervisor. And since the session will be recorded, it could also serve as proof of wrongdoing in the event a student denies breaking the rules.
Record Spontaneous Debate
An instructor will usually have a specific topic to cover during each lesson. However, there will always be times where it may be necessary to deviate from the day’s topic and address a related subject that students bring up. Since it wasn’t planned, the debate will probably not be part of the notes.
Nevertheless, it may be something interesting enough to want to go through again later on. Also, you may not have had a satisfactory answer with you at the time the question was posted so the webcam recording will provide guidance on what you need to research on so you can deliver the right answer during the next lesson.
Build a Digital Library of Instruction
As an instructor, you probably have to deal with a new student cohort every year or few months. Each time, you’ll be teaching the same topics except to a different set of students. No subject area is cast in stone so there’ll always be some new knowledge emerging that’ll need to be incorporated in your lessons with each new set of students.
That being said, no topic sees a radical overhaul every few months or years. Chances are that much of what you taught the previous class will be relevant to the new students. Webcams can help you automatically capture your lessons then replay them in future when you need to reference them with a new set of students.
In addition, though new knowledge may sometimes render obsolete some of the things you said in the recording, you can easily edit the webcam captures to ensure accuracy.
There’s plenty more you can do with webcams to improve the effectiveness of instruction. Your students are likely to be relatively young and this is an advantage when introducing technology in class. Millennials have spent most of their lives on the computer and internet age so will be comfortable with this approach to learning.