I’ve long stressed the importance of including a video communication strategy as part of a school system’s instructional design plan. I do this not just for schools delivering instruction 100% online, and not just because, well, I’m in the business of video. I make the recommendation because video supports collaborative teaching strategies for all types of learning environments, whether they be online, blended, or traditional. And what’s more, introducing our students to a next-gen skillset currently adopted by roughly 75% of corporations, is important.
Team-based, problem-based and project-based learning, just to name a few, are some of the most common teaching strategies for delivering on a collaborative approach to learning. Part of what makes these strategies so attractive is how they promote higher order thinking – the process of analysis, evaluation and reflection of coursework by a student. With these strategies, students work together in small groups to solve complex problems, and through collaboration, they become active learners and achieve a deeper understanding of topic. These methods work well in traditional learning environments where students are physically together, but are difficult to replicate in the increasingly more common hybrid landscape of education today, which requires students to perform group collaboration online.
Traditionally, the LMS, email and chat rooms have been the digital “go-to” tools used to support online communication, but these options historically have under-performed in mirroring the authentic experience of in-person small group interactions. Educators have long been asking for greater communication features within their online learning platforms and many companies have begun answering the call by building multi-point video elements into their offerings.
Today, there are quite a few options are out there to consider when looking to enhance collaborative strategies online. Some schools have made the choice to encourage student utilization of free video applications like Skype and Google Hangouts, while others are leveraging video conferencing features present within their LMS platforms, like Blackboard’s recent acquisition of Requestec, and Canvas’s partnership with BigBlueButton. Then there are school systems looking to take a more holistic approach to video communication, exploring video/audio/web solutions like Acano, whose coSpace concept is well suited for teaching and learning applications but also meets the needs of administrative and support team communication.
So could video collaboration truly be the Rosetta stone for delivering collaborative strategies online? Geez, I don’t know. But I do know that it’s a great thing when pedagogy and technology come together to deliver on enhancing student achievement. And that’s exactly what collaborative teaching strategies and video communication are accomplishing together in the world of online learning.