Instructional Strategies for Videoconferencing


[The following is excerpted from ATT Knowledge Network Explorer; click on the links for more detailed information]


Effective use of videoconferencing technology for interactive learning requires practice and planning as well as attention to a few important instructional strategies. Two-way video works best as an interactive medium, but because we all have years of experience watching video rather than communicating with it; instructors must make extra efforts to involve and engage learners. The following list should remind you of strategies to consider when designing two-way video instruction:


Keep in mind that you already possess a wealth of knowledge and experience in curriculum design and instruction. When planning your videoconference, think about the learner and outcomes first -- the who, what, why, where, and how questions of learning -- before leaping into preoccupation with logistics or technology. Use instructional methods that motivate students and encourage active learning behaviors.



Incorporate variety into instruction to keep interest and motivation high. Use relevant visuals or sounds to illustrate points, and if possible, bring in a guest speaker to share a different perspective, answer questions, or provide real-world feedback on student projects. Even with thrilling visuals and instructors, nobody wants to watch a talking head for hours; so make sure learners have an opportunity to focus attention away from the screen. Assign small group activities with a task that can be discussed later. Plan breaks to give students a chance to stretch and talk.


Asking a question can be daunting for students, especially if it means they must get the attention of a remote teacher and talk to a TV screen. Teachers can help by noting the body language of remote students and taking the time to query when students seem puzzled or disinterested. Eye contact and use of names both help make students feel more comfortable. These people skills are obvious and natural in a "live" classroom, but may seem awkward in a distance learning situation. "Eye contact" means looking at the camera and the monitor rather than local students, and teachers might have to make a special effort to attend to remote learners. To help out introverted students, consider alternative modes for questions and comments. Make a fax machine available or solicit e-mail for questions and comments. Consider holding videoconference office hours or paying a visit to the remote site. Use resources creatively to establish rapport and help all learners participate.