There are many advantages and opportunities to using synchronous communication tools, these are some of them:
- Great communication tool for teacher-to-learners and learner-to-learner. Teachers can answer questions directly without delay. Allows learners living remotely to communicate and work collaboratively.
- Provides accessible education for regional and remote far sites, such as classrooms in northern communities. Red River College has some courses available in a lecture theater for those learners who attend in person at the Notre Dame campus, but online using video streaming for those students at satellite campuses
- Allows for outreach where your teaching locale is remote or regional. I call this one the Australian Challenge describing the problems Australian museums face. Australian cities are located on the coasts, far from one another so they use video conferencing to reach out to broader audiences in other cities. The Royal Tyyrell Museum faces the same issues. They are too far from Calgary and Edmonton for day trips so they use video conferencing programs, i.e. virtual field trips, to provide outreach to remote audiences, primarily K-12 schools. They now offer programs across North America and, get ready for it, in Australia.
- Provides remote access to experts, guest speakers, museum galleries, etc.
- Access to remote experts, guest speakers, this was made famous with Edward Snowden’s Ted Talk, where he appeared live using a Beam Pro Telepresence robot
- Chris Hadfield meeting with schools in Winnipeg while onboard the International Space Station
- Amon Carter Art Museum virtual gallery tours
- Provides accessibility for people with differing abilities, such mobility issues, whether permanent or temporary bed ridden due to injury or illness
Telepresence robots allow:
- People with mobility issues, such as Henry Evans of Robots for Humanity, to attend remote sites, such as classrooms and museums, conferences, and to work collaboratively in remote work settings, labs, etc.
- Children in hospitals or bed ridden at home can continue to attend their classes
That is the issue with internet delivery of video. The remote and isolated communities that require educational opportunities the most are also have a lack reliable technologies and high speed, broadband internet. Asynchronous communications tools can provide a better opportunity for learners in these communities.
In terms of video conferencing and lag, the Royal Tyyrell Museum chose Zoom over other software because it drops the video feed while maintaining audio when internet speed lags, so at least the conversation can continue.
You’d be surprised by how good some online video conferencing software is these days.
Zoom offers web and video conferencing and chat rooms as well as back channel chat and video recording. There is a free version limited to 10 people and 40 minutes. Most museums I spoke with were either using Zoom or moving to using it, some supplementing or replacing video conferencing hardware units.
BlueJeans is top of the line, but pricey. McGill University has an institutional licence.