How Video Conferencing Helps Collaborative Learning

Happy woman sitting at table smiling, and waving at laptop while engaged in a video conferenceWhether a professor at an esteemed university or a teacher instructing kindergarten, the concept remains the same – commanding attention is an integral part of educating. As an educator, it’s imperative to capture your students, and the way to do it is via interactive learning.

Free video conferencing software is the must-have tool that provides educators the avenue to lead and make an impact with learners. Pre-school or postgraduate, online or offline, collaborative learning has the potential to truly shape the way material is taught and absorbed.

Let’s unpack the impact of free video conferencing on education.

How Is Video Conferencing Helpful In Collaborative Learning?

Side view of female teen sitting at table writing in notebook interacting and learning from teacher online, visible on desktop screenThese days, a classroom doesn’t have to have four walls. Free video conferencing is shaking up the traditional sense of a blackboard in front of rows of desks by offering a virtual solution.

Bringing the classroom online can take shape in a multitude of ways to include all sorts of learners across a myriad of subjects, from small group bible studies to large scale seminars and everything in between. Here’s how video conferencing is effective in and out of the classroom:

Video Conferencing “In The Classroom:”

  • Increased Learner Participation
    Going digital in the classroom means a more visual approach is applied. This multi-dimensional way of teaching invites learners to immerse themselves in the lesson and as a result, creates a more participatory environment. Take the online whiteboard, for example, that comes as a video conferencing feature. It’s a fun way to incorporate images, files, and videos to share brainstorming, break down concepts, and collaborate to sketch, draw, and add different elements. An online whiteboard even helps bring introverts out of their shell!
  • A Dynamic Environment
    Interactive video conferencing for education provides a designated virtual space for students to learn, share, collaborate, and critique. This alone pushes a more dynamic learning agenda by encouraging participants to be present and in the moment. Furthermore, if lessons or presentations are recorded, this promotes a more flexible option for students who are absent, providing participants a way to find balance within their own dynamic lifestyle.
  • More Power In Group Problem Solving
    Going alone means you’ll get there fast but going together means you’ll go far. Using video chat as a tool to keep the lines of communication open between group members improves how work gets done and allows students to share and compare strategies and ideas. Screen sharing, an online meeting, or using the online whiteboard to discuss complex ideas breaks down barriers. And it can be done in real-time too!
  • Connect To Remote Students
    Students from different locations can connect over the course material. With the bulk of the content taught using video conferencing, learners in the classroom can swap notes with another student in a different classroom, engage in a debate with a remote team or select a tutor or reading buddy in another location.
  • Remote Presentations And Projects
    With free video conferencing that offers the online whiteboard, students have the freedom to present digitally, either in the physical classroom or remotely. Students can submit polished presentations, mood boards, completed essays, and more – digitally! It’s easier for educators to mark and all the submissions are conveniently located in one place.
  • Take A Virtual Field Trips
    Enrich your curriculum with plenty of excursions to choose from. Depending on your course material, you can bring your class on a field trip to an active volcano or you can send them the link to visit on their own. There are field trips available for students ranging from preschool to postgrad!
  • Less Paper, More Templates
    Video conferencing offers a more video-centric approach to learning. As a result, one of the first things to become obsolete is paper handouts. Assignments, syllabi, projects – all can be done virtually by sending documents and files via text chat, an online meeting, or the online whiteboard.

Video Conferencing “As The Classroom:”

  • Connecting With Experts
    Learning online provides learners streamlined access to the content as well as the mentors, coaches, and leaders they want to learn from and with. Furthermore, educators can collaborate with third parties like museums, collectives and other content providers, and contributors to add authenticity and dimension to the course material.
  • A Global Online Network
    Online, space and time are irrelevant. Video conferencing is the thread that connects learners from all around the world who share a vested interest in the course content. This is a dense ecosystem ripe with knowledge to share and experiences to unfold – together. Worldviews and observations are swapped to create new friendships and find ways to tackle new (and old!) problems that result in an information exchange with both depth and breadth.
  • Niche Learning Opportunities Available
    Educators with very niche webinars, online classes, course material, ebooks, etc., now have a fighting chance at sharing and distributing their knowledge to eager learners. Looking at how to move your business online? There’s an ebook for that. Want to take a songwriting class? Explore food photography? Learn how to crochet finger puppets? Improve your SEO writing? There are courses for those!
  • Nonstop Learning For Teachers
    In order to stay relevant and ahead of the curve, even educators need to learn. With video conferencing, teachers can stay on top of their expertise by acquiring new certifications online, pursuing professional development, and conferring with other professionals to learn from.

A Few Dos and Don’ts:

Face on view of three university students sitting in front of laptop in mid-discussion working on a project online

Educators know that learners work best when teaching is mixed up. Blended learning that involves listening and speaking, and tests out different communication skills aids in the growth of the individual.

To begin, DO manage everyone’s expectations with a video chat orientation that sets out crystal clear group goals as well as individual accountability.

DO establish the purpose, defined goals and desired outcomes. DON’T overstuff groups. DO keep group sizes as small as possible to avoid learners from just “cruising.”

DO demonstrate different strategies for learning and encouraging work to get done. In the classroom or via video conferencing, try:

  • Fishbowl discussions: Organize a medium to large group into an inner ring and outer ring where the inner group discusses a theme or topic while the outer group listens, takes notes and observes.
  • Buzz groups: Break down into small groups to work on one aspect of a larger task or generate ideas about a theme in a timed session.
  • Round-robin technique: A brainstorming strategy that invites a small group to get together in a circle (or online meeting) and quickly answer an educator’s question or problem within a short defined amount of time, without critique or further explanation.

DON’T use made up problems or fabricated questions. Real-world scenarios present real-world solutions plus they’re more relatable and showcase a more authentic scope to work from.

DO rely on technology that facilitates tighter knit bonds within groups and between learners and educators. Video conferencing is the next best thing to being in person, and works to lessen the gap between where people are and where they want to go!

How Do You Promote Collaborative Learning?

By practicing what you preach! Promoting collaborative learning starts by prioritizing collaboration over competition. Video conferencing is innately designed to foster this kind of learning approach. As a hyper-visual, engaging, and connective platform, collaborative learning is only the beginning!

Teachers, administrators, counselors, professors, and anyone who is in the field of education can adopt a more collaborative teaching style that nurtures cooperation, teamwork, and harmony.

Even if you’re an entrepreneur mentoring other budding entrepreneurs or stay-at-home mom teaching how to breastfeed online, here are a few teacher collaboration examples:

  1. Teachers Can Teach And Learn From One Another
    Foster partnerships, share affiliates and lean on each other to grow, swap stories and share notes. Exchange skills and discuss what you learned if you picked up new info in a night class you’re taking.
  2. Sink Your Teeth Into An Extra Big Project
    Taking on a project that is far beyond your skill set requires all hands on deck. Explore another dimension of collaboration by reaching out to other educators and facilitators, or students from another district, school to country to pull off a fabulous mural, a virtual event or charity work.
  3. Create A Community
    Never stop learning! Create a virtual (or physical) community where participants can check in to share, talk, collaborate and dream up anything to do with educational opportunities, projects and big hairy ideas! Send out invitations and reminders to schedule get togethers online or make up a Facebook group or YouTube channel to stay connected.

Promoting collaborative learning is really just about how you learn and absorb information, and the way in which you do it! Let video conferencing give you the avenue you need to open up to a faster more connected way of breaking down boundaries and solving problems.

How Effective Is Collaborative Learning?

When we collaborate with someone or a group of people, it forces us to see the world with a new lense other than our own. We are given the opportunity to learn from other people’s points of view, experiences and way of thinking. While this can at times cause friction, it is this same friction that can cause creation.

Collaborative learning in general, and by way of video conferencing, develops social skills, gives way to peers learning from each other, works to build trust, camaraderie and understanding; helps to engage learning, sharpen communication skills, gain confidence in cultivating a voice, offers support and shapes the way a person ultimately interacts with others on a micro and macro level.

Almost every action we do is collaborative, always involving a question and answer, a negotiation or an exchange. Learning is just the next step up, and when it’s made collaborative, the benefits and results are maximized!

What Are The Benefits Of Collaboration In Education?

Video conferencing software offers a connection point between the educator and the learner. By shortening the distance (ultimately, making it seem like there is no distance!) with technology, the benefits of relying on video are boundless! All you need is a device, internet connection, speaker and mic, and anyone from anywhere can teach and or learn (it helps if you have an open mind too!).

So what are the benefits of collaborative learning?

  1. Save Time And Money
    The use of video conferencing saves institutions and instructors two of the most precious resources, time and money. The rech is larger which means more people can access the same class. Plus, it offers an access point for small-time instructors with hyper niche offerings to collaborate in a way that might not be possible in a physical setting.
  2. Sit In A Global Classroom
    Students comprising the “classroom” are united by a shared interest in the learning and topics, not vicinity. Similar backgrounds might be present, but with people who are accessing the learning material from all over the world, the virtual environment suddenly opens up to a more diverse learning environment.
  3. An Enriched Experience
    People from all walks of life with different experiences and stories to share make up the classroom. Their input and outlook create a learning environment that is multi-colored and layered for an enriching experience that provides different perspectives and opinions.
  4. Turn Dreams Into Reality
    With video conferencing, learning can happen on the ground. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit the pyramids, go diving through the Great Barrier Reef or explore crystal caves, you can be right there to find out for yourself! Make lessons and learning more dynamic and colorful by utilizing these tools to add life and experience to theory, while creating a more complete understanding of how the world works.
  5. Add More 1:1 Time
    No one learns exactly the same way. The opportunity to give students one-o- one time is very valuable for their learning. These meaningful interactions not only provide educators with feedback, but it makes students feel like less of a number and more like a human! Video conferencing offers a two-way communication platform that encourages facetime and allows for a dialogue that brings problems to light while offering solutions.

Lesson plans that incorporate video conferencing create deeper, richer opportunities for learning:

  • Educators can reach out to students who aren’t able to typically attend class (rural location, learning disability, health conditions, etc.)
  • Classes can be recorded to ensure learners are up to speed or for classes to fit their schedule
  • Experts can make an appearance to add to the credibility and interest of the course, keynote, seminar, etc.
  • One-on-one time is scheduled, fair and readily available
  • Parent-teacher video conferences for in depth chats and discussion
  • Classrooms can be transported to far off lands with immediate access to live feeds and virtual field trips

With, you can break down the four walls and boundaries of any classroom to inspire more dynamic learning. Teaching using video conferencing provides keen learners with the unique opportunity to learn and grow from where they are. There are no space, time, and location restrictions when you can meet and learn online.

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