Snow day, class canceled? Not with web conferencing

Wednesday, November 9 2011

Snow days may become an obsolete notion with web conferencing on the rise in college and high school classrooms across the country.

Schools such as Boston University’s Graduate School of Medicine are fully embracing the benefits of the virtual classroom, particularly within the Healthcare Emergency Management graduate program. The school uses MegaMeeting, a web conferencing service requiring only internet access and a web cam, to meet in an online classroom from any remote location and participate in discussion just as they would in a physical class setting.

In a presentation compiled by BU Director Dr. Kip Thomas, he described the MegaMeeting service as an "easy-to-use interface" with "low hardware/software requirements." Student-to-student and teacher-to-student communication is constant with the service’s interactive video and text chat features.

Using web conferencing as a virtual classroom is not its only educational function. The technology has also proven vital for student group projects and field training exercises for the BU students. On one occasion, according to Thomas' presentation, an Ohio doctor assisted an EMT in Massachusetts in a simulated medical emergency using the web conferencing software.

While some students may not be pleased with the virtual classroom solution to snow days, teachers can be sure to stay on schedule with the convenience of video conferencing