There was a time when distance education simply meant that a student was going to receive a mixed package of text and course notes to read, maybe perform studies or experiments, away from the confines of a campus or classroom. They would then submit their work and write exams as needed. The whole thing was devoid of input or interaction from the lecturer, teacher or educator. And, for decades, this was the norm. But, recently the concept of learning while not being physically in the classroom is being pushed to new limits.
The advent of new technologies is giving new meaning to the term distance learning. What was once a cold, robotic and almost sterile practice is now being infused with the interaction, color and, for lack of a better word, life that humans have grown up with and crave. There is much that can be learned by merely reading text and notes, but to hear and see an educator teaching the subject matter is another thing altogether. Video capturing devices and cloud based platforms that let students access the material from virtually anywhere an internet connection can be found is changing the way students learn.
Video lectures have gained traction and popularity particularly among students who are not physically able to attend class. Whether they reside in another country, engaging in part-time studies, or cannot physically attend due to injury or disability, students nowadays no longer need to fall behind the rest of their peers, since they can follow along online. Proponents of video lectures say that it meets a growing need for flexibility and control over a student’s ability to learn. Video lectures allow students to study at their own pace. No longer will they need to try to simultaneously watch the lecturer’s presentation, listen to the information coming from their mouth, and capture that on paper. With this technology students, can literally freeze time, analyze what the lecturer is saying, rewind for clarification if need be and then continue with the lesson. Technically speaking, this leads to longer viewing sessions, which is not possible if the student were to have seen the lecture live and in person.
Students who missed a class no longer need to beg their classmates for notes, they can simply watch the lecture again in its entirety. At the end of the day, students can be empowered to take their studies to new heights by wielding this technology. For students, this is a massive value add. It is not only a convenient way to learn, but some students actually feel more engaged by watching video lectures.
While video lectures are convenient ways to learn for those who cannot physically be in class, they also prove to be a great tool for those who choose to supplement their in class lectures with recorded material. Using this methodology, a lecturer can use video to deliver the lecture, in the meantime class time can be reserved for activities that are impossible to accomplish through a video lecture, such as debates and other forms of interactions. Similarly, a lecturer can use video recorded material to take students on a deeper dive of a particular subject that would have otherwise proven to be too long to discuss in class.
The fact is that thanks to Cloud technology, video lectures can be easily accessed from a remote location provided that the user has decent access to the Internet. The platforms used are often intuitive and easy-to-operate, which means that students spend less time fussing with the interface and spend more time learning. Couple this with the plethora of streaming options available today and it is easy to see that video lectures would have, especially when you consider it from the school or lecturers perspective in that it offers a new source of possible revenue. They are able to attract students that they may never have had access to if they stayed strictly with a live lecture. Finally, viewer analytics baked into the Cloud platform that the video lectures are on allow educators to adjust and improve lectures rapidly thanks to the feedback from both students and software.
Essay writing, especially for the uninitiated, can often be an arduous, intimidating and tedious task. Lecturers who often have years, maybe even decades, of experience reading and writing essays are usually able to breakdown the writing process for students. Using time tested systems and approaches these instructors can teach students how to write effective essays in a timely manner. Without video lectures, students who are not in the direct presence of the presenter or lecturer will have a very difficult time gleaning the essence and subtleties of the knowledge being taught. This is because even when given texts and course material on the subject matter, students are not exposed to the context and emphasis usually found within a live lecture.
From an essay writing perspective, video lectures have the ability to greatly increase the amount of aid and support that a student can receive. Not only do students receive a video and audio reference that they can study and take apart piecemeal without time restrictions or pressure, but with the way current cloud platforms are set up they can actively engage the instructors, ask them questions and clarify matters through a single, easy-to-use interface. Contrast that with the way things were typically done, and students would be hard pressed to receive a timely reply through the mail.
Now while there is a lot of hype surrounding video lectures both from students and educators, there are detractors to this line of thinking. Mostly comprised of education staff, these people feel that the handful of negatives surrounding video lectures outweigh the positives. For example, some do not have confidence in the recording system and are very worried that they every word, their every action is being recorded during the lecture. Then there’s also the issue of privacy. These video lectures are being stored in a database after all, and no database, no security system, is impregnable. As such there is a concern for possible IP and privacy loss or infringements.
There are also those believe that video lectures are generally a good idea, but that the technology just isn’t at the standards it needs to be to deliver a safe, secure and valuable experience to the student. Some say that that accessibility issues may limit learning, while others say that the entire set up may prove to be too technical for some students to understand.