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WebRTC is Changing Higher Education

February 12, 2015

As soon as the Internet became a commonplace feature of modern life, college campuses began using the medium for improved distance learning initiatives. The promise was obvious.

At first these initiatives did not meet expectations, however, because the isolation from Internet-based learning was crushing for many students, and others suffered from too much technology complexity. I know; I was one of those students who used the first round of online learning initiatives.

But how times have changed—especially thanks to video chat. Easy video makes distance learning a lot less lonely, and it opens the doors to a lot of new possibilities.

With the rise of WebRTC, video chat is starting to take a big leap forward when it comes to education.

There are many ways that WebRTC is helping education. One way is supporting students with disabilities.

For students with mobility issues, or who have cognitive challenges that make it hard to keep up in class, the easy-to-use video from WebRTC can be a godsend. It enables every classroom to be a distance education classroom, and this can help students who need to slow down lectures or can’t make it to class.

WebRTC also is making asynchronous learning easier; class times don’t require all students now to be present at the same time, and classes can be recorded for later perusal.

When interaction is needed, video chat is starting to help students easily connect with each other for study groups and questions—and making office hours significantly easier for faculty.

Faculty also is finding video chat useful for arranging conferences. Whereas before it might be hard to pull in a distinguished academic for a particular event, or to pay for travel, thanks to the wonders of easy video conferencing it now is comparatively easy. Just get online at the appointed time.

The significance of WebRTC and the easy video chat that it enables also has application in education outside of the classroom. Some universities, such as the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, are using video chat to interact with prospective students. This is significantly easier than having prospectives truck around the country looking at schools (although they still might want to visit the schools on their short list just to be sure they like what they’ve been hearing and seeing on video).

Video chat is starting to really invade colleges, and for more than just weepy communications between freshmen and their parents.

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