Using Audio, Web, and Video Conferencing for Distance Learning

Using Audio, Web, and Video Conferencing for Distance LearningDistance learning has been greatly increasing in popularity over the course of the last several years, and as distance learning technologies become more accessible and less expensive it doesn’t look like this trend will be stopping soon. By utilizing modern audio and video conferencing technology combined with web conferencing software, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of distance learning for both the teachers who provide the content and the students who wish to learn it. To help you determine whether audio and video conferencing and web technology can help you to improve your distance learning programs, please consider the following information.Audio ConferencingThe use of audio conferencing in distance learning can be of great benefit to both teachers and students, since it allows them to interact with one another in ways that standard correspondence and e-mail communication cannot match. By using an audio bridge to allow real-time communication with a number of students at one or more distant locations, an educator can converse directly with students so as to answer any questions that they might have while allowing their comments and other input to drive the class discussion in new and interesting directions. Audio conferencing also allows an advanced distance learning setup to be established with relatively low cost and little technical maintenance. The main drawback to audio conferencing is the fact that there is no visual component to the lessons that are being taught; this is where video conferencing comes into play.Video ConferencingIn a manner that is very similar to audio conferencing, video conferencing can allow distance educators to interact directly with students in real time. As the name suggests, the main difference between the forms is that video conferencing adds one or more cameras into the mix so that students will be able to see as well as hear the teacher or other speaker as well as any materials that they may present. A video conferencing setup may work in one of two ways… there may be a video camera setup which captures the video and audio of the teacher or speaker and an audio setup which captures the responses of the students (meaning that there is one-way video and two-way audio), or there may be video setups on both ends of the conference connection to capture both video and audio (which allows for real time two-way video communication.) The video which is captured and transmitted (be it one-way video or two-way) is displayed on a television or other monitor at the other end of the connection; audio may also be routed into speakers within the monitor, external speakers, or a separate audio conferencing setup.Internet Conferencing SolutionsAnother alternative for distance learning which is growing in popularity combines both audio and video conferencing with the ease and convenience of internet communication. A number of software companies market internet conferencing software which allows users to not only interact directly with those on the other end of the connection, but additional software components may be integrated and used as well. This can be useful for distance learning educators by allowing them to post questions, quizzes, images, or a variety of other components which the students may then interact with and answer. Internet conferencing may feature either one- or two-way video, and utilizes two-way audio to allow teachers and students to converse as needed during lessons. In many cases software features may be customized to only allow certain users to receive specific content as well, so that sessions with multiple student locations may each have content specific to them as a supplement to the material being discussed by the instructor or other speakers.