Video conferencing is becoming a real force in the education industry. The ability to record, attend, and communicate on lectures and classroom environments significantly enhances student experience and opens up opportunities to spread knowledge and collaboration all across the globe. Now, Blackboard Inc. has announced an Android mobile application that can be used for web conferencing that is integrated with existing Blackboard systems. Blackboard is one of the education industry’s leading service providers and supports teachers, educators, and students in a variety of ways. This new mobile app includes a number of useful and unique features. The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Native-built for Android devices and available on the Google Play(TM) app store and the Amazon Appstore for Android, the app lets users participate in live, interactive Web conference sessions by viewing whiteboard activity and presentations, communicating through chat and audio, responding to surveys, raising their hand to get the instructor’s attention, joining breakout rooms and more.”
Improving mobile options for teachers and students alike is a great way to strengthen the education industry. With more and more students coming to class equipped with their own mobile devices, and with more and more opportunities to spread information and enhance interactivity, implementing a tool like Blackboard’s mobile app could become a common practice in schools in the foreseeable future. In addition to the mobile application, Blackboard has improved its collaboration suite to support the recording, viewing, and sharing of lectures in video or audio format.
Where do you see the education industry going with the new and improved tools for conferencing? Share your thoughts in the comments!
As video conferencing is a fluid and ever-growing industry that incorporates new technology and new innovation, seemingly daily, it is sometimes useful to take a step back and look at how the industry is “trending”. This helps gets a sense of what we can expect moving forward and how the industry is adapting to meet customer needs. Let’s take a look at a few examples of trends in video conferencing.
Mobile Conferencing is a growing commodity in the industry. With the rise of a wide range of effective mobile tools such as tablets, smart phones, and more, businesses are looking for ways to improve communication even further by extending the capability of mobile tools to host video conferences. Many service providers have developed specific solutions for mobile platforms. While mobile conferencing isn’t always going to be the answer, it’s definitely a unique and effective way of bringing in people on-the-go.
Cloud-based Video Conferencing is another important trend that is really starting to take control of the market. With the strength of the Internet and its ability to store and share data in a variety of unique ways, the use of hardware and in-house servers to support video conferencing systems is becoming a thing of the past. Cloud video conferencing offers more flexibility, accessibility, and less institutional burdens. Of note, however, is the concern that cloud-hosted solutions have less security than alternatives.
These are just two examples of how the industry is trending right now. Where do you think video conferencing will go, and how will it adapt to meet new technology and growing customer demands?
Although we often cover broad-scope stories about how video conferencing has impacted various fields and industries, it is sometimes important to also look at interest stories that show how video conferencing can make a profound impact at the individual level. A recent article published on LimaOhio.com shows how video conferencing helped one future educator in his chances to land a job near his home. Reporter Beth Jokinen explains:
“Freer wanted to do his student teaching with Mapleton High School industrial technology teacher Craig Wiley, an ONU graduate. Wiley teamed up with Patricia Freeman, ONU’s education technology coordinator. The two set up video conferencing equipment and Freeman observed her student five times.”
Student teaching is an important stepping stone to introducing students in the field of education to the world of full-time, full-duty teaching; it is important to allow professors the chance to evaluate a student first-hand in this experience. However, a student teaching position is often also a stepping stone to a more permanent job at the same institution, and in this case, Freer was interested in solidifying his chances at a school near his home. Though traditionally, ONU only allows its students to teach within a 40-mile radius of a campus. The exception was made thanks to the capability for teaching monitoring through video conference.
This story shows how options are opening up for people on both the large and the small scale. Accommodating to the needs and desires of students and teachers alike is becoming more and more of a possibility thanks to this technology.
Microsoft’s recently acquired Skype software system, one of the world’s most well-recognized and widely used interfaces for video conferencing, has recently gone under scrutiny when a New York-based company filed suit regarding infringing patents related to secure Web-based communications. Bloomberg reports:
“CopyTele Inc. (COPY) said it filed a complaint today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, alleging that Skype infringed two patents for technology that helps maintain secure Web-based communications. CopyTele is seeking unspecified damages, according to a copy of the complaint provided by the firm. The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.”
Software patent debates are always a difficult ground to break into; the similarity between codes and practices can get very muddy, and arguments often devolve into pedantic squabbles where the giant always comes out the victor. As far as the legal world of software development goes, there’s still a lot of work to be done. It is certainly difficult for a smaller business like this one to support its claim, whether it’s true or not.
Skype is an important part of the video conferencing industry – it offers worldwide users the chance to try out the technology without much setup, and with no cost at all in many instances. The security of video calls is a constant concern, and Microsoft will understandably do everything they can to support the protection of information shared over Skype. However, patents exist for a reason, and if it is true that they were infringed upon, Microsoft will likely need to settle with CopyTele, offering them the credit they deserve. What do you think of this recent news? Share your thoughts in the comments!