Higher Education Is Evolving Thanks To Videoconferencing

Re-post article from hbcommunications.com

Cloud-based videoconferencing has taken communication to a different level. Almost all industries are leveraging this technology to improve communication and collaboration while reducing infrastructure costs. The education field is no exception.

As the technology becomes more mainstream, many higher-education institutions are deploying cloud-based videoconferencing to enrich communication between faculty and students. Students are already accustomed to videoconferencing as a way to connect, communicate, and collaborate with their friends and family, and this comfort level is now making its way to the classroom, during regular class hours and beyond. In fact, many institutions are also using this channel to recruit and work with international students.

Education Expands Beyond the Classroom

One reason behind the rising popularity of cloud-based video technology is that it is more affordable, reliable, and scalable than an in-house system. Considering recent trends, many now believe cloud video systems are likely to become the preferred communication channel in the coming years for most schools, colleges and universities, big or small. And they’re using this technology in ways that make both teaching and learning more exciting and innovative.

For example, Birmingham Southern College in Alabama used cloud-based videoconferencing to bring the lights of Broadway to its classroom. Literally. Students studying acting and theatrical arts were able to perform for a New York City director—remotely, via video—on a five-hour live musical theater audition when the consultant suddenly could’t make it to the campus.

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles has been at the forefront of the videoconferencing movement, and has been using videoconferencing to deliver live classes to students who are working as local defense contractors since 1972. Stop and think about the challenges they faced 30+ years ago! Needless to say, with the many innovations and advancements that have occurred in just the last few years, cloud-based video technology has made things smoother and more seamless for the program. And the University of Oregon library system deployed broadcast and videoconferencing in order to connect in real-time with its various campuses throughout the state, expanding its boundaries way beyond the classroom.

Even though all these universities had different reasons to implement videoconferencing, there is one common thread—distance learning, and how cloud-based video technology has provided new ways for teachers and students to address its challenges.

Deploying Video Technology in Education

Quality videoconferencing allows for improved interaction, regardless of distance. K-12 and higher-education institutions can now provide educational programs to students outside the classroom in a way that was beyond our imagination even a few years back. Through HD videoconferencing and virtual classrooms, students, teachers, and industry experts can be brought together for rich, collaborative learning experiences. Schools, in turn, are generating dynamic content to further enhance the levels of education they can provide.

Students and faculty can access the content and participate in virtual classrooms from anywhere, at any time, and use any device. The experience is like being there in the classroom because the videoconferencing tools allow for real-time communication. Students can ask questions, share ideas, or get specifics on the spot, with no lag time.

Videoconferencing also lets schools and universities dramatically increase class size because physical space is no longer an issue. The technology allows for a larger reach while keeping the interactions seamless and class sizes manageable.

Videoconferencing in education combines the best of both worlds in both distance teaching and learning, and conventional education operations, allowing students to benefit from the easy-to-use class materials with a distance program, while enjoying the face-to-face meetings and lectures that are typical in conventional education. This can also make students more responsible for their own learning by doing tasks beyond the classroom and working in groups to add another dimension to conventional teaching.

Where Things are Going

As new communication channels gradually blur the lines between conventional and distant learning, colleges and universities are using video technology in both environments. However, the prime pedagogical issue lies in understanding the impact cloud-based videoconferencing has on the effectiveness of learning. One thing is certain, videoconferencing can successfully lessen the time and distance constraints sometimes faced in the education industry, allowing students and teachers an enriched and robust collaborative experience.

5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Video Conferencing

Re-post article by BY ADORA SVITAK

The author of two books, 12-year-old Adora Svitak published her first, Flying Fingers, at the age of seven. In addition, she has spoken at some of the nation’s pre-eminent education conferences and taught students around the world via her video conferencing programs. Most recently, she spoke at the TED conference.

What do you think of when you hear “video conferencing?” Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) meeting with GE executives over TelePresence in 30 Rock? Big corporate boardrooms? Or maybe, just maybe … a classroom of fourth graders?

Believe it or not, there are almost 30,000 video conferencing systems in U.S. schools, service centers, district offices, and departments of education. Many are used every day to connect students around the world.

The ways that video conferencing can enhance the educational experience are numerous. Ginger Lewman, director of the Face2Face program at the Turning Point Learning Center in Emporia, Kansas said that video conferencing has been used “as an essential learning opportunity for the past four years. We’ve been connecting with students across the U.S. and the world to bring religion, geography, history and service learning to vibrant life.”

But how exactly do you use a video conferencing system in education? Below are five ways to use video conferencing in the classroom.

1. Connect with Experts

Turning Point Learning Center makes frequent use of video conferencing, and Ginger Lewman remarked, “It allows our students, ages 10-14, to begin to develop not only essential communications skills, but also an acute awareness of global issues. It is always a joy to get to talk with experts and peers face to face and in real-time!”

I use distance learning every day to talk to students about the importance of reading and writing. Schools request programs from “content experts” to hear about a certain area of study. For example, knowing that writing was a weak point for their students, New Market Elementary teachers Miss Brown, Mrs. Deck, and Mrs. Ramsey participated in my video conference, “Personal Narrative Writing: Acing your State Writing Assessment & Beyond.” New Market Elementary’s media specialist, Nancy Kochert, said that “students left the session very excited and chatting about Adora’s age and abilities.”

Such responses are typical of fun and productive video conferences with content providers or experts. Content providers could be individuals, museums, non-profits, and learning centers.

2. Virtual Field Trips

Any school field trip usually requires a lot of preparation — there’s the food, then the transportation, then the mischievous students, and most importantly, making sure not to lose anybody. It’s a whole lot harder to “wander off” when your field trip is on a screen in front of you.

Whether to a museum or a zoo, virtual field trips are becoming increasingly common in video conferencing schools. According to an article from Scholastic Instructor magazine, Pennsylvania’s Mt. Lebanon School District was able to offer its middle school students a chance to see a volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Scholastic Instructor described the video conference:

“In e-Mission: Operation Montserrat, a ‘mission commander’ at the center interacts live with the students, relaying reports about lava flow and evacuee progress, showing video clips of ash clouds over the island, and sending seismic data and information about hurricane intensity to students’ laptops. They analyze the information, make predictions about risks, and suggest courses of action.”

In a quote from the magazine article, instructional technology coordinator Aileen Owens said, “Kids don’t find studying rocks exciting. That changes when you make learning come alive like this.”

3. Working Together

Students in a classroom in, say, Wyoming, could connect with a classroom in Wisconsin and work together on a collaborative activity. While in the past, collaborative activities might be limited to one classroom or one school, video conferencing allows students in multiple schools around the world to work together on relevant issues.

One benefit of such an exchange would be that you might receive different views and fresh ideas from a class of students who are miles away, than you would from someone you’ve known for years. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration dedicates an entire section to collaborative activities, both for educators and students. Topics range from “Impact and Challenges of Rural Water Pollution” to “Transportation of the Future.”

Interactive Videoconferencing: K-12 Lessons That Work, by Kecia Ray and Jan Zanetis, offers another example: “Employability Skills and Distance Learning: Michigan Students Come to Ohio.” Michigan’s Galien High School connected with the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Ohio to grow a deeper understanding of the job application process through collaboration.

Collaborative activities typically work toward a practical goal (such as cleaning up rural waters) while helping students develop organizational, collaborative, and leadership skills.

4. Accessing Previously Unavailable Courses

Some schools, especially those in rural areas, aren’t able to offer advanced or detailed courses that their students might need. Even those in more populated areas often lack enough teachers in certain subject areas. Many schools could benefit from having an extra course over distance learning that they might not be able to offer otherwise. Instead of having to commute long distances between different schools, teachers would be able to instruct over video conferencing.

What’s more, “previously unavailable courses” can mean some pretty exotic content. You might have dissected squids or made model skeletons, but how many times have you seen a live knee replacement surgery in science class? At COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, Ohio, showing live knee replacement surgeries over video conferencing is nothing new.

Video conferencing is a powerful medium for giving students unparalleled access to places (or procedures) they could have only dreamed of in the past.

5. Teaching the Teachers

I not only speak to students over video conferencing, but also to teachers, providing a “kid’s eye view of the classroom.”

Because learning is a continual process for teachers, and teachers must acquire a certain number of professional development hours (a percentage of which should be dedicated to technology) to maintain certification, video conferencing offers a convenient way for many school districts to meet these requirements. In addition, even students can learn from their teachers’ professional development — once, I spoke to teachers in Florida’s Broward County School District while students looked on.


Although these may all be school solutions, you can apply many of the same principles to business as well. When it comes to connecting with experts, why not set up a video conference with your consultants instead of flying them in?

If your company has far-flung offices, connect them with video conferencing instead of paying for expensive flight tickets. You could connect to previously unreachable markets (like education, or an international market), and provide professional development and training for new employees. Video conferencing breaks down boundaries — inside the classroom and out.

The 20 Habits of Truly Brilliant Presenters

Re-post article by By Maurice DeCastro , founder of Mindful Presenter.

I guess that’s why we don’t see too many pigs or horses using PowerPoint.

We are unquestionably one of the planet’s most successful creations because we are able to learn, recall what we have learned and share it with each other. We’ve been sharing what we know for centuries, and in business, it’s more important today than ever that we do so effectively. We call it presenting. The good news is that everyone has the same intellectual potential to present ideas with power and impact.

That potential is only achieved through understanding how we use our brains to communicate with the impact we wish to make.

For decades, neuroscientists have been telling us that we have two distinct parts of the brain, each of which has its own specific functions. We’ve all heard of the left brain, which is said to be responsible for logic, analysis and detail, and we’re also familiar with its counterpart the right brain, which drives emotion, intuition and creativity.

More recently much of that research has been challenged, and today many neuroscientists believe there is no solid science-based evidence to support the left/right brain theory we have believed for so long. Now we hear scientists talk about the relationship between the top brain and bottom brain.

Whether it’s the left brain/right brain, top brain/bottom brain, conscious mind or subconscious mind or any other brain/mind relationship science cares to dispute, we can be certain that in whatever location they may be situated, our brain allows us the capacity for:

  • Analysis
  • Language
  • Logic
  • Organization
  • Critical thinking
  • Detail
  • Reasoning
  • Emotions
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Intuition
  • Belief
And more than we could ever imagine

Whichever part of our brain is responsible for each of these attributes may continue to be under scrutiny and open for debate for some time. In the meantime, most business presenters will continue to mistakenly believe that being professional means you have to present only logic, analysis and detail to be taken seriously. They will continue to prepare and deliver presentations paying little attention to the emotional, creative and imaginative functions of the brain.

The end result is often a well-reasoned and structured but also dull and monotonous business presentation.

Why is that?

Regardless of age, gender, experience or status, we are all creatures of habit. Just beneath our cerebral cortex sits a small piece of neural tissue called the basal ganglia, and neuroscientists believe that once our brain encodes a habit into our basal ganglia, that habit never really disappears. That’s the simple reason why so many of today’s business presentations are so tedious: they have been created and delivered through nothing more than habit — bad habit.

The good news is that we can create new habits.

The best speakers have an understanding about how the brain works when it comes to public speaking because, after all, that’s what they are doing — using the brain to influence, persuade and inspire a room full of other brains.

With that knowledge, they consciously create good habits.

The brain and stage fright

It always starts with a thought:
  • I’ll forget what I want to say.
  • The audience will be bored.
  • They will see I’m nervous.
  • They won’t like me, believe me or agree with me.
  • They will ask me questions and I won‘t know the answer.

It is always one or more of these negative thoughts that trigger the pituitary gland to secrete ACTH, the hormone that releases adrenaline into the speaker’s blood. It’s the adrenaline that produces most of the symptoms that we associate with stage fright: sweaty palms, increased heart rate, trembling and disturbed breathing.

The great presenters’ brains are not immune to these negative thoughts but know exactly what to do when they occur:

Habit 1: They acknowledge and reframe

When they feel their palms becoming sweaty, the butterflies in their stomach or their heart racing, they understand they’re nervous, accept the nerves as normal and tell themselves it’s OK to feel that way. They remind themselves that the reason they feel that way is because they have something important to say and they want to get it right, but they also tell themselves that it’s not a performance they are giving; it’s a conversation they are going to have.

Habit 2: They focus on the audience

Mindful presenters take the attention off themselves and place it on their audience, reminding themselves that it’s how they make their audience feel that’s important, so that’s where their focus is placed.

Habit 3: They don’t try to be perfect

Anxiety increases substantially when we strive for perfection. The great presenters know that, so they don’t try to go for an award-winning performance. Instead, they know that their job is simply to be the best of who they are with the sole intention of making a difference to their audience rather than making themselves look like superstars.

Habit 4: They stick to the point

Nervous presenters want to tell their audience everything they know, and in the process, they worry that they will forget something or get something wrong. Great presenters tell the audience what they need to know, remembering that less is always more.

Habit 5: They see the opportunity

Nervous presenters see the presentation as a performance where they will be judged. In that performance, their audience is the predator while they are the prey. Great presenters see the presentation as an opportunity to help their audience and to add value to their personal or professional lives.

Habit 6: They “anchor” themselves

Anchoring is a neuro-linguistic programming technique that can change your state of mind or mood easily. It works by simply recalling a time you felt happy, confident, calm and relaxed, breathing deeply and remembering how good that time felt, seeing yourself back there in that moment.

Habit 7: They practice

Repetition truly is the mother of skill, and great presenters know that only too well. Nervous presenters invest their time and energy worrying incessantly about the event, while great presenters use their time to practice, practice and then practice some more.