Techno-pedagogical considerations to integrate videoconferencing into educational activities (II)

By Teresa Romeu, Juliana Raffaghelli and Marc Romero

(This is the second part of a publication divided into two parts. You can consult the first publication here)

The teacher must choose, from the existing tools, those that give a better response to their needs by taking into account the level of difficulty of the topic that they will want to deal with, the interaction they will want to carry out, their level of digital competence and that of their students, as well as the infrastructure in which students have access to do so.  

Given the current situation and the possibilities of technology to face them, however, a critical situation becomes clear: while in school and in the face-to-face university there is equality at the level of participation and presence, in the case of videoconference equality can disappear: for example if students do not have the computer updated , they may suffer a hack of their data, or if students do not know how to access or enter one of these applications (or parents) a teacher session may be lost, or also, a poor connection could seriously make their access seriously difficult as well. 

In addition, each tool covers certain needs but involves difficulties that must be taken into account: for example, while Zoom has been the most used tool for its simplicity of use with a simple link, its security has been strongly questioned by the hacking that has suffered and the unauthorized entries in videoconferences (phenomenon called “zoombombing”), there are also tools with advanced features such as shared whiteboards but that are inaccessible and are inaccessible to some centers teachers, and others (such as hangouts) force users to create an account in order to access them.

Therefore, the use of technology is not without difficulties or critical situations, but teachers should choose the tools knowing that they will not solve all their difficulties when carrying out their online practice. Consequently, it is necessary to properly plan any activity through these tools prioritising their design and methodology over the tools. 

Strategies when when making a video conference

In order to facilitate the use of the tools presented and optimize their effectiveness for the teaching task, we propose some strategies to follow:

  • Video conferencing is used as a meeting space between periods of remote work. Consider the benefits of asynchronous tools and pedagogies and balance synchronization and remote work based on their possibilities and limitations. 
  • Do not require mandatory assistance to a video conference, generating alternative tasks and recorded versions that the student can continue without conflict with the family.
  • Respect students’ privacy concerns, which is often compromised. For example, if they don’t have a quiet, private place to work, some may not want to share videos or screens because of this issue.
  • In the face of poor connection quality situations, we let students turn off their video so they can at least listen to the material and share their audio if they wish.
  • If there are few students, it is interesting that they can open their microphone and video to present themselves and to greet, to give a feeling of social presence and human group in the virtual classroom. If there are many close microphones and invite to the presentation and greeting by chat.
  • Leave the chat open to share alternative materials or clarifications on what the main presenter said. It is clear that this is a channel that could generate distractions (such as when participants speak in class). But if we put one or two students of moderators (to rotation) we can get a good session with support from the students with more difficulties of access.
  • Plan interaction times, and use moderation tools as well as participation rules, which can arrive written by email, and be presented before the session.
  • For students who wish, they may be invited to share their video or screen so that they can make presentations and/or complement the teaching presentation. Whenever possible, test this type of interaction.
  • When the time of the questions begins, possibly have the teacher questions ready to copy and paste them into the chat, and that students can interact through this means as well. 
  • Tutorials and videos can be shared for video conferencing, simply by sharing the screen although it is advisable to watch them before the video conference and comment on it.  

In the face of this emergency situation, the teaching presence is not solely aimed at cognitive development and student instruction. Organizing video conferences to communicate with students, to know how they are and to receive their feedback and news on how they live the crisis is an emotional and motivational support that is a fundamental basis for learning. Video conferencing can be a space for it.

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