The landscape is vast, encompassing everything from classroom scheduling software to virtual reality learning solutions.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand how educators can become overwhelmed by an abundance of choice, often juxtaposed by a limited budget. For example, should you opt for educational software, or is it more beneficial to invest in a time-saving tool for teachers? As any solution involves a tradeoff, navigating the technology jungle can be stressful.
The fact is, advanced solutions are not suitable for all schools. Sometimes, budget and focus need to be allocated elsewhere to address more pressing needs. Even schools that enjoy a significant budget may find it challenging to prioritise and justify spending on unfamiliar solutions. In spite of this, there is no doubt that EdTech presents a massive opportunity for schools to make learning more engaging, effective, and fun. But as they set out to harness this potential, it’s tricky to know where to start. Sometimes, it’s helpful to go back to basics.
Going back to basics to propel schools into the future? For all the progress that we have seen in education technology over the past decade, there is still one fundamental development that has stood the test of time. It has been around for decades, yet still holds massive promise for both students and teachers alike – the webcam.
Before you dismiss this notion as dated or even obsolete, it’s important to understand what we mean by the webcam in the first place. As a concept, the webcam can be anything from the camera on the front of your phone to a massive virtual event gathering thousands of attendees. We’re only scratching the surface of the wonders of virtual video. With this in mind, there are three main reasons why the webcam is the best investment for upgrading any classroom in the decade to come.
Creating connection Fundamentally, technology should be evaluated on the basis of how it actually transforms students’ lives. The webcam is a brilliant example of this. Virtual video allows educators to easily connect and interact with students, be it in a classroom or on an individual device.
It’s essential to highlight that this doesn't simply mean ‘doing a webinar’. Instead, video meetings provide educators with a wide range of ways to innovate their lessons. Virtual video unlocks a world of opportunities for making classes more engaging across the board. This can include anything from using virtual whiteboards to augmented reality, creating engaging, interactive experiences for everyone. Many educators are yet to explore these options, but they’re gaining in popularity. For that reason, we’re likely to witness an explosion in innovation in this area in the near future.
The webcam is one of the best examples of why educational technology solutions shouldn’t be about using tech for the sake of using tech. Live video can range from a small screen in a student’s hand to a large projection in a full auditorium. The fact that this technology is comparatively affordable makes the webcam one of the most accessible educational tools around.
Educators can instantly connect with students and other stakeholders, such as experts and guest speakers. The only requirements are an internet connection, a camera, and a willingness to engage. This enables the sharing of experiences and insights across borders in a previously unimaginable way. Even though the technology has been around for a while, we’re only now starting to see the promise it has for boosting accessibility and challenging previous boundaries of education.
Scaling reach Finally, in relation to the above, the accessibility of virtual video makes it highly scalable. Today, a single educator is able to connect with students across the globe, in several classrooms – or even auditoriums – all at once. The webcam holds a fantastic promise to reach thousands of students at an affordable cost. This can help alleviate key issues faced by schools, including resource allocation and time constraints, while connecting students with the best, most engaging educators there are.
In conclusion, the webcam isn’t just a webcam. It’s a tool that can be modified, scaled, and adapted to a wide variety of contexts. Even though the technology itself isn’t new, it’s reaching unseen heights as it’s becoming more accessible and the experience more immersive. The human touch of live video – be it through virtual reality or on an iPad – allows educators to inspire countless young minds in an instant. This truly makes the webcam the biggest upgrade you can make to future-proof your classroom.
By David Harkin, CEO of 8billionideas Ltd
David is the Founder and CEO of 8billionideas which exists to give every student the skills and belief to change the world. It does this by teaching entrepreneurship, career education and future skills through its platform and via its services to students of all ages. In 2022, David was ranked 8th in the world by ISC Research as one of the top influencers globally positively disrupting the education sector and recently published his first book, 'The Ripple Effect: How surprisingly small changes in mindset can make big things happen' with endorsers from the world of education, business, and journalism. 8billionideas has worked with 250,000 students from around the world in 4 continents and has become an award-winning organisation recognised by the TES and COBIS on a global scale. In 2021, it was honoured to be one of twenty organisations that was featured by St James' Palace in its publication on 'Leadership and Innovation - For the next 300 years'. David is a proud 2x TEDx speaker and in 2020 he was asked to be a Council member of Foundation of Educational Development - which has been created to help create a long-term vision for education. In 2021 he was made a Fellow of High Performance Learning by the globally renowned Professor Deborah Eyre. He is also proudly the Director of Entrepreneurship at Harrow Hong Kong & Bangkok, British School of Jakarta and to the Chatsworth School group. In 2022 he won the award for EduFuturist of the Year.