Can video conferencing replace teachers?

The Offaly Vocational Educational Committee has come up with the idea of using video conferencing technology to help Irish schools cope with tighter resources and budget cuts.

The new device, which connects students and teachers through video link, means that schools can still offer the same number of subjects, despite having fewer staff and reduced funding.

With figures from the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland showing that 83% of secondary schools have lost full-time and part-time teaching jobs since 2009 and research from Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS ) last year revealing that a smaller proportion of time allocated to science and maths in schools, video conferencing might be the answer.

Edward McEvory, CEO of Offaly VEC, said it had helped rural students to engage with specialised subjects and other students from different backgrounds.

"Students that previously had no access to applied mathematics are now studying it twice a week. Additionally, classes in rural Ireland are having regular face-to-face interaction with a school in the United States. The school’s faculty couldn’t be happier with the technology and the advantages it has afforded the students," he said

You can also record classes, which means that even if students miss a class they can catch up.

But I wonder if there are there any hurdles. What about connectivity? Is there high-speed Internet access available from all geographical locations? And can it really be a subsitute for real-life communication?

Let us know your thoughts.

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