The best way to use videoconferencing in a classroom setting is to integrate it into the existing curriculum such that it is fluidly incorporated into course objectives. It is best when it is not simply an "add-on" but rather assimilated in such a way that it complements, enhances, and furthers the stated learning goals. Ideally videoconferences should not be used to only provide content but should be preceded and followed by discussion, reflection, and activities that engage and build on the information and skills gained through the interactive experience.
- Courses that integrate videoconferencing, like general instruction, should have specific learning objectives. The videoconference itself, with its complementing activities and assignments, should be set up to meet those course objectives. Instructors should share these learning objectives with students and make it explicit that the videoconference is considered part of the general instruction such that students are responsible for participating and learning from the videoconference as they would from other aspects of the class. Of course, evaluating what is learned from the videoconference should be included in other forms of course-based assessment.
- Videoconferences should fit within the established sequence of a class. For instance, if the only time participants are available to meet is at the beginning of the semester, then students in an integrated classroom can teach some of the basic concepts of the course to one another and discuss some of the reasons why they took the course and are interested in the subject. On the other hand, if it is at the end of the semester, an expert presenter can quiz students on what they've learned, engage questions on a particular topic, or provide feedback for final presentations.
- If the course is designed so that the videoconference technology is an integral part of the class—whether it is a semester-long integrated class with a distant classroom or a course led by a distant instructor—consider how the technology and experience is unique from traditional classroom formats and use this uniqueness to its best advantage. For instance, as the technology becomes more and more portable, distant instructors can lead a language class on a virtual tour of a local market place for vocabulary and conversation practice. This provides information and skills that enrich the overall educational experience of students.
- Reflection is key for videoconferencing as it is for many other learning situations. This is particularly important because global learning objectives involve more than content about international issues. Global learning and globally responsible citizenship relies on intercultural skills, attitudes of engagement of empathy, commitment, and a vital ability to see oneself and see the world through others' eyes. These skills and attitudes necessitate that instructors facilitate student reflection not only on the content provided but on the international experience itself, i.e, why there was disagreement, the history of a unique perspective, the cultural knowledge that was behind a specific practice discussed, or why there may have been a cross-cultural communication gaps. This will put more of a burden on the instructor who will have to guide these discussions, but these reflection sessions will no doubt deepen knowledge, expand perspectives, and ensure that global learning goals are achieved.
Consider using a program planning guide or form to help with integration.
Whether the presentation is a one-time special event or a part of a semester-long class, it is important to consider the impact of interactive videoconferencing on the curriculum, particularly its effectiveness for enriching the international aspect of the course. Taking the time to evaluate the experience helps instructors and students to understand how interactive programs enrich international learning.
Evaluation should take place to assess student learning and the overall experience and use of technology. While some basic evaluation forms may be used by instructors to assess individual interactive programs, assessment should also be integrated in to authentic means of classroom activities and assignments. This can include structured discussions, reflective essays, wiki and blog contributions, exams and quizzes, and a variety of classroom and take-home assessment techniques.