Videoconferencing in the Classroom: An Orphan Technology?

By Tony Lawson and Chris Comber.

Published by The International Journal of Technologies in Learning

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 11, 2014 $US5.00

Drawing on a decade of evaluation research into videoconferencing in English schools, this paper explores the relative lack of pedagogical innovation in the educational application of videoconferencing. Initial surveys on the frequency and patterns of use of videoconferencing provided baseline data for selected case studies involving in-depth interviews with key personnel involved in the deployment of videoconferencing and observations of lessons in which videoconferencing was being used. Data analysis reveals that the main models of videoconferencing use were either ‘substitution’ (videoconferencing replacing face-to-face curriculum delivery) or ‘enhancement’ (whereby videoconferencing augments traditional pedagogical practices). Examples of ‘adaptive’ use (exploring the innovative potential of videoconferencing) were relatively rare. This apparent conservatism, at odds with the emergence of shifting pedagogies with other ICT tools, was allied to videoconferencing being positioned as an ‘orphan’ technology, whereby interested teachers were offered quasi-autonomy – that is, power to innovate was limited by highly localised policy and curricular systems. The authors conclude that for videoconferencing to enter the mainstream of school ICT provision, wider learning benefits need to be demonstrated to a broader audience, so that videoconferencing can reach its transformative potential. Ways to achieve this are presented.

Keywords: Technology Mediated Learning, Videoconferencing, School Education

International Journal of Technologies in Learning, Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2014, pp.69-79. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 11, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 430.088KB)).

Dr. Tony Lawson

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Tony is a Senior Lecturer in the social sciences in Education. His main focus for research is Information and Communications Technology, especially videoconferencing. He also has responsibility for several research projects connected to teaching the Social Sciences. His has held various responsibilities in Advanced level examining, from Chief Examiner to member of the Standing Advisory Committee at AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) in the UK. He was President of the Association for the Teaching of the Social Sciences for 12 years.

Dr. Chris Comber

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Chris Comber is a Senior Lecturer in educational research methods and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). His main area of research is in the role of ICT in educational contexts, with a particular interest in the educational potential of videoconferencing, in which he has been involved in a number of major evaluation on behalf of the UK Department for Education, The British Educational and Communications Agency (Becta) and commercial providers. other research interests include gender differences in education, with a particular emphasis on the achievement and attitudes of boys and the impact on pupil attitude and achievement of educational transitions.