With an arrival of collaboration tools and cloud-based web conferencing services, schools should clinch new modes in the teaching-learning process.
Frost & Sullivan published a report titled ‘Analysis of the Global Web Conferencing Market’ in January 2016. It expounds the rapid growth that cloud web conferencing is experiencing and forecasts web conferencing software and services to grow at a 5-year CAGR of 8.4% to reach $3.6 billion in 2020. With an influx of collaboration tools and cloud-based web conferencing services in recent years, the abounding opportunities presented to the education sector will overtake the traditional modes of teaching and learning. The K-12 sector should embrace the new modes with vigour and zeal to stay relevant and advance in the teaching-learning process.
WebRTC: Influencing Real-time Communication
Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC), an open framework for the web, is popular across all browsers and platforms such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Android, iOS, etc. It facilitates video conferencing, file transferring, desktop sharing and chatting without the need of internal or external plugins. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) have standardised the use of WebRTC, which was kick-started by Google as an open source project in May 2011.
There are multiple enterprise and open source solutions for WebRTC, including the TokBox’sWebRTC platform, OpenTok and Kurento Media server. They guarantee live streaming on most platforms and also meet security and efficiency standards.
WebRTC: Benefiting the Education Sector
The enthusiastic adoption of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the education sector has made WebRTC a common phenomenon. Check out how it benefits the teaching and learning process:
Learning anytime, anywhere – It facilitates the streaming of live lectures to any number of students across the globe. It especially becomes relevant in a time when many students are opting for homeschooling and online learning. It also enables students to consult the course instructor in real-time, thus, facilitating speedy clarification of doubts and effective discussion.
Dual-mode Communication: Communication is effective only when both the parties participate and interact. Other than the teacher only sharing their screens and involving in a monologue, they can also ask any student to cast their video, and thus gauge whether the student is able to grasp the topic well. This is an even more effective way of solving doubts than live chat.
Assets and their maintenance: There is no limit to the number of streams a teacher can open. A teacher can show multiple presentations, documents and videos repeatedly without any resource crunch. The lectures along with ancillaries can also be archived effectively for future reference.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning
The e-learning environment is generally classified as synchronous and asynchronous. The synchronous e-learning environment is more like a virtual classroom, where online learning is carried out through chats and video conferencing.On the other hand, in an asynchronous e-learning environment, the student or the teacher can be offline, and the process of learning involves coursework carried out via emails, social networks, etc. In the former, a real-time connection is established between teachers and students, facilitating effective communication and collaboration, whereas in the latter, students carry out the learning process on their own, and online means are merely a form of support.
Besides, an asynchronous learning environment requires e-learning management software solutions installed on the internal network, which are maintained by service providers. Any hardware and software breakdown can, thus, stall the learning process, while in a synchronous learning environment, learning management systems are hosted in the cloud and are, thus, easier to maintain.
Thus, cloud web conferencing, a type of synchronous e-learning, should be embraced in imparting education. WebRTC provides students with hands on experience of technology, enhancing their learning experience and fostering their all-round development. It is imperative that schools boost the experience of digital natives by adopting new teaching methods and innovative means of content delivery. However, a few technical glitches like poor internet connectivity and power cuts can affect the productivity of learners and, thus, need to be mitigated.
This article has been authored by Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO & Co-founder, Next Education India Pvt. Ltd