Education remains one of the key functions of every successful society. The current changes in the world of technology have influenced different fields such as health, education, and politics. In the learning environment, the use of modern technologies has become a new wave capable of transforming the experiences of many students. Bennett (2016) believes strongly that the nature of the traditional classroom is changing very fast. The use of technology continues to cause excitement in different learning institutions. The purpose of this literature review is to contribute to the scholarly body of information surrounding videoconferencing.
Videoconferencing has become a common practice in many parts of the globe. This modern practice is supported by “a set of technologies that allow people to communicate simultaneously through audio and video transmissions” (Milner, Lemon-Leverenz, & Powell, 2015, p. 12). The technology relies on real-time compression of video and audio streams (Ziemna et al., 2016). Modems are used to facilitate the conferencing process. The individuals involved in the process should have both video and audio devices. A computer is needed to tie together the major components required throughout the process.
Videoconferencing Systems Contribution
Modern videoconferencing applications are currently making it easier for people to have simultaneous conferences. This process is known as “a Multipoint Control Unit” (Alhassan, 2016, p. 182). The approach interconnects individuals from several locations. Hardware and software systems are usually required in order to support the videoconferencing process. The process is usually governed by the standards outlined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The videoconferencing systems contribution is something that has been embraced by many people. The effectiveness use of the systems makes it easier for individuals to benefit from this technology (Ziemna et al., 2016). The current hypothesis is that videoconferencing technology will transform the performance of educational and healthcare institutions.
Innovative Applications of Videoconferencing Technology
Many technology companies have been on the frontline to produce modern systems that can transform people’s experiences. One can mention Flipped Classroom as an example. These instructional videos are “the best-known and most widely used” (Benett, 2013, p. 5). Other videoconferencing programs, such as Adobe Connect or Zoom, are also used in schools for distant learning (Mader & Ming, 2015). The authors of this paper also suggested using Google+ Hangouts in the educational context (Mader & Ming, 2015).
Videoconferencing technology is one of the innovations that have changed the manner in which various activities are completed globally. Education continues to evolve every single day (Bennett, 2016). Many educators are required to address the diverse needs of many students. With the lifestyles and career patterns of many people changing frequently, videoconferencing has been applied innovatively to the education sector. Videoconferencing technologies have therefore become vital elements in the classroom setting. The technology promotes distance learning whereby learners in different parts of the world can acquire adequate and timely educational competencies.
Videoconferencing is also being used in the educator sector to deliver practical skills to learners. Educators can demonstrate various activities and procedures to their learners. The students can also save the videos and watch them later. This innovative approach is transforming the learning process across the world. These technologies allow teachers from all over the world provide knowledge to those who cannot be present in the classroom physically, e.g. those with disabilities, from rural areas, or other states and countries even. It is an interactive experience that has a potential in engaging students in different tasks and making them more autonomous.
Teachers who have many learners from different regions can use the multipoint control unit (MCU) to educate them simultaneously through videoconferencing. These innovative applications are supporting the educational goals of many learners (Bennett, 2016). Similarly, videoconferencing is becoming appropriate in different fields such as surgery, medical practice education, and business operations.
Innovative Applications of Another Technology
Mobile learning is another technology that continues to meet most of the needs targeted by videoconferencing systems technology. Mobile learning has become a common practice whereby learning institutions have been able to deliver quality educational content to different students. The availability of smartphones has made mobile learning in different parts of the world possible (Alhassan, 2016). Teachers have been focusing on innovative approaches that can be used to deliver learning instructions and teaching materials to more students. The learner community is embracing the use of mobile devices towards improving the quality of education.
Pioneers in the education sector have been redesigning and developing new materials that can be supported by handheld devices. Consequently, more individuals are able to receive quality instructions from their teachers. The use of mobile devices is also expected to transform the sector in the future. The outstanding innovative aspect associated with mobile learning is that it ensures reading materials, videos, and publications are available to the student (Kearns, 2016). Increased readiness and interest among learners will, therefore, address the unique barriers affecting mobile learning.
Videoconferencing Technology from a Systems Perspective
Videoconferencing systems are packaged into powerful equipment capable of replaying audios and videos simultaneously (Pandolfini, 2016). The system is a console characterized by cameras and computers in order to support the conferencing process. The systems can be portable or non-portable depending on the nature of the intended conferences. In the learning environment, students involved in the learning process are usually connected to the system. The role of the instructor is to ensure the right content is delivered to the learners. During the process, the learners can ask questions and offer responses to the instructor.
The Continuous Presence (CP) mode has been produced to ensure all participants or learners are displayed on the screen at the same time (Alhassan, 2016). The MCU also ensures that all the images of the participants are replayed to the user (Milner et al., 2015). The layouts on the screen change significantly depending on the number of learners. The system, therefore, makes learning possible for many students.
Privacy and Security: Advantages and Disadvantages
The pioneers of videoconferencing systems technology have been focusing on the best equipment capable of linking two or more participants. The systems usually rely on the internet for communication especially when the individuals are in different geographical locations. This issue explains why security has become a major concern for many technologists and users of these systems. Hackers can interfere with the software systems and eventually affect the process.
Additionally, comprised videoconferencing can result in loss of privacy. Confidential information transmitted through videoconferencing might be leaked to the public (Kearns, 2016). Although videoconferencing is described as a safe method of communication, any security breach can result in numerous problems. Communication challenges, language barriers, and lack of internet in different regions can affect the use of videoconferencing for learning purposes.
Teachers should be aware that malware is capable of recording videoconferences and sending the content to the developer of this malware. If conferences cover some sensitive information and display contact numbers or any other private information on a screen, it is advisable to ensure that there is no malware installed on your computer.
When using shared desktop, teachers or students can experience unpleasant situations if pop-up messages from E-Mails are not disabled. This way, all participants of the conference will have the chance to (unwillingly) gather personal information about an individual. Some companies might charge a person if any sensitive information is disclosed during a videoconference. Furthermore, it is advisable to change any shared passwords after a conference if the teacher does not want to deal with possible hacks or information leaks (especially if the teacher does not use their personal laptop).
On the other hand, the systems can be secured using advanced technologies. By so doing, more learners and teachers will be able to realize their goals. Learners can acquire useful information without having to travel. Individuals who are working can embrace the power of videoconferencing technology to realize their educational goals. Teachers can also educate more learners simultaneously without incurring numerous expenses (Kearns, 2016).
Experts, therefore, believe strongly that the use of videoconferencing will identify new innovative applications and eventually transform people’s lifestyles (Pandolfini, 2016). It will be appropriate for developers of these technological systems to be aware of the major security breaches that can undermine their effectiveness. This knowledge will make it easier for them to come up with new security measures to address every threat. The existing tools and technologies are advanced and often encrypted, which implies that unwanted information disclosure is less likely to happen. Nevertheless, not all programs for videoconferencing are reliable.
For example, one of the most famous programs Skype is known for its security breaches. It is not difficult to block someone’s account by simply filling in a complaint on the program’s website. Therefore, Skype users can lose their accounts and all information in it just because the company does not adequately address these issues. Thus, one should thoughtfully choose programs for videoconferencing and be aware of their issues with privacy control.
Sustainable Application of Videoconferencing Systems
The use of videoconferencing is embraced by many people because it has the potential to minimize environmental impacts and promote sustainability. The traditional learning process relies on the use of paper materials, chalk, and pens. These materials are usually expensive to produce and require huge tracks of land (“Are Dalhousie’s conferences ‘green’,” 2016). Videoconferencing minimizes the use of these materials by over 50 percent. Institutions that continue to embrace the use of modern technologies such as videoconferencing will minimize their impacts on the natural environment.
Green videoconferencing is another concept whereby learners and teachers focus on the best approaches to minimize the use of energy. Modern computers and conferencing systems minimize the impacts on the environment (“Are Dalhousie’s conferences ‘green’,” 2016). Learners can avoid the use of writing materials and summarize the gained information using their computers or handheld devices. The conference can be held in a convenient manner to ensure the greatest number of learners is targeted. These measures will, therefore, protect the environment.
Leadership in a Rollout Development Project of Videoconferencing Systems
As more institutions continue to appreciate the benefits of videoconferencing, leadership will become relevant towards effective project implementation. In order to lead the rollout project, a change model is needed and should focus on the needs of the key stakeholders. Kurt Lewin’s change theory can be used by leaders to implement the targeted videoconferencing system. The model focuses on freezing, changing, and refreezing (Webb, Darling, & Alvey, 2014).
The first step can be used to prepare the individuals for the change. Leadership can be used to mentor and guide the individuals. The next thing is introducing the new project. Finally, the stakeholders should be encouraged to support the new technology. Problem-solving, decision-making, and empowerment should be undertaken continuously by leaders. These practices will ensure the project is implemented successfully.
The Effect of Videoconferencing on Education in Different Levels
The effect of videoconferencing on different educational levels is significant. For example, Mader and Ming (2015) used Google+ Hangouts to work on a literacy initiative. The partakers formed different groups, but instead of using E-Mail, they were asked to engage Google+ Hangouts during the working process. One of the groups perceived these sessions positively. Thus, videoconferencing can be used even on the highest educational levels or in collaborations among education personnel.
The authors also used Google+ Hangouts “to connect graduate students in a master level course in advanced literacy assessment” (Mader & Ming, 2015, p. 112). In this assessment, videoconferencing was used by graduate students to coach “the teacher candidates in their practicum experience” (Mader & Ming, 2015, p. 112).
Another study discusses adult students and their perception of videoconferencing. According to the authors, the quality of experience is “directly influenced by appropriateness of teacher-student interaction and ease of participation” (Malinovski, Vasileva-Stojanovska, Jovevski, Vasileva, & Trajkovik, 2015, p. 1). Moreover, students’ motivation to take part is such sessions was also important for the quality of experience.
Their motivation to use such technologies is different from higher education students or those who attend school: they need the knowledge to advance in their profession or develop some skills for personal use (Malinovski et al., 2015). The distance education is more suitable for adult students because they have other aspects of life that demand attention, such as career and family. Therefore, distance education and videoconferencing are efficient in adult education.
Another level of education that should be considered is education in healthcare. According to Kaufman and Brock (1998), videoconferencing in health education is appropriate because of the following reasons: participants do not want to leave their communities, information is delivered in a short period of time, instructions are delivered simultaneously, and difficult topics can be discussed by multiple communities.
The specifics of distant education that uses videoconferencing needs to be taken into consideration; otherwise, it is possible that the session will not meet participants’ needs and lack interaction. That is why it is crucial to prepare the necessary materials (articles and handouts) and ensure that students have experience in using tools for videoconferencing (Kaufman & Brock, 1998).
At last, Plonczak (2010) discusses how videoconferencing can be used during math lessons. According to the researcher, videoconferencing requires teachers to have good questioning skills, excellent understanding of content, and the ability to plan and deal with unexpected (Plonczak, 2010). Furthermore, the study’s findings also support the idea mentioned above: it is important to provide hands-on to students to ensure that the learning process is efficient (Plonczak, 2010).
Nevertheless, during a videoconference, it is challenging to shift to student-centered teaching style. According to some of the participants, lecture style was more appropriate for this type of conference (Plonczak, 2010).
As it can be seen, the impact of videoconferencing can be both negative and positive, depending on the teacher’s aims and students’ needs. Careful preparations are required for any lesson that engages videoconferencing.
The ADDIE approach is used in the education of students and employees as well. According to the research findings, the ADDIE model was effective in training employees, because their participation significantly increased (Walallawita, 2016). Another approach, the Global Classroom Model, was used by Danish researchers to teach students using E-Learning techniques; the findings supported the idea that students perceived this approach as motivational, but both teachers and students experienced communication difficulties (Weitze, Ørngreen, & Levinsen, 2013).
Alhassan, R. (2016). Mobile learning as a method of ubiquitous learning: Students’ attitudes, readiness, and possible barriers to implementation in higher education. Journal of Education and Learning, 5(1), 176-189.
Bennett, P. (2016). E-learning in K-12 schools: The prospects for disruptive innovation. AIMS, 1(1), 1-36.
Kaufman, D. M., & Brock, H. (1998). Enhancing interaction using videoconferencing in continuing health education. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 18(2), 81-85.
Kearns, G. (2016). Countering mobile device threats: A mobile device security model. Journal of Forensic & Investigative Accounting, 8(1), 36-48.
Mader, C., & Ming, K. (2015). Videoconferencing: A new opportunity to facilitate learning. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 88(4), 109-116.
Malinovski, T., Vasileva-Stojanovska, T., Jovevski, D., Vasileva, M., & Trajkovik, V. (2015). Adult students’ perceptions in distance education learning environments based on a videoconferencing platform–QoE analysis. Journal of Information Technology Education, 14(1), 1-19.
Milner, A., Lemon-Leverenz, K., & Powell, G. (2015). Integrating streaming, videoconferencing, and unified communications solutions: Science teachers, science students, and science experts using technology to collaborate for understanding. Meridian: A K-16 School Computer Technologies Journal, 1(1), 1-21.
Pandolfini, V. (2016). Exploring the impact of ICTs in Education: Controversies and challenges. Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 8(2), 28-53.
Plonczak, I. (2010). Videoconferencing in math and science preservice elementary teachers’ field placements. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21(2), 241-254.
Walallawita, W. (2016). E-Learning system for the employee training and development. Web.
Webb, L., Darling, J., & Alvey, N. (2014). Multicultural leadership development in the 21st century. EnCompass, 1(1), 1-20.
Weitze, C. L., Ørngreen, R., & Levinsen, K. (2013). The Global Classroom Video Conferencing Model and first evaluations. Web.
Ziemna, R., Sarkar, N., Pickus B., Dallwig, A., Wan, J., & Alcindor, H. (2016). Using international videoconferencing to extend the global reach of community health nursing education. Public Health Nursing, 33(4), 360-370.