Using Interactive Videoconferencing in Family Science

submitted by Mary Kate Morgan

With the new and improved technology available today, it is no surprise that more and more careers once completed in person, are now exploring options via the Internet. Professionals and clients prefer more flexible delivery methods because of competing demands on their time. Therefore, family scientists should become familiar with and utilize such advances in technology in order to reach a wider audience. For example, interactive videoconferencing technology can be used for a variety of things: meetings, conferences, continuing education, courses, office hours, appointments, etc. While family scientists are very equipped to enter the professional world after graduating, few have had experience using interactive videoconferencing.

So how can family science programs better prepare their students for this? Law et al. (2018) conducted a research study on a family life education methods course that used experiential learning with interactive videoconferencing. The authors warn that before jumping into the subject of interactive videoconferencing, programs need to understand the concept of andragogy, the “art and science of adult learning” (Law et al., 2018, p. 35). Knowles (1984) suggested the following four principles of learning especially pertinent to adults:
• Adults must be active participants in their own instruction.
• Learning activities should be based on acquiring experience.
• Adults connect to information that has significance to their lives.
• Adult learning should be focused on problems and not content.

For this specific research study, the course and resulting workshops were delivered using interactive videoconferencing. Students spent the first half of the semester learning about family life education and preparing a session of a martial enrichment workshop. During the second half of the semester, students were given the opportunity to present their sessions with couples who were recruited from the community. The students reported that this course was “above other family science courses” and the students “felt that the opportunity to prepare and present a real workshop was ‘much more than just an assignment.” The students also commented on the fact that this course design “gave them the opportunity to apply their education to a real-life experience” and “gave them the opportunity to explore what a family life educator career would be like.”

Using interactive videoconferencing in family science courses can benefit students in a variety of ways. It allows geographically dispersed students the opportunity to have an in-class like experience without having to commute to campus. It also allows for experiential learning that goes beyond introduction to content. Finally, interactive videoconferencing provides students with opportunities to conduct classes and engage families similar to what they will see in their future professions. Using Law et al.’s (2018) research to incorporate experiential learning and interactive videoconferencing into a course is a great way to start as long as the class follows andragogy principles to ensure students get the optimum experience.

For more information read: Law, D., Fall, L., Arocho, R., Meyer, S., and Ross, K. (2018). Redesigning a family life education methods course using experiential learning and interactive videoconferencing. Family Science Review, 22(2),34-52.

Photo credit: Video conference 001 by Sarah Stewart CC BY 2.0



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