Online education is big business and as of 2015, according to market research firm Global Industry Analysts it’s estimated to be worth $107 billion worldwide. Education technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Companies like Lynda.com and the Khan Academy offer online courses in almost any subject imaginable.
So, what is the role of WebRTC in online learning today?
Well, WebRTC technology enables online course providers to offer webcasting, live streaming, one-to-one coaching and pre-recorded classes online, at the click of a button. Because WebRTC is an open-source platform, web developers can create ‘virtual classrooms’ that enable screen sharing between involved parties.
The Technical Benefits
First of all, let’s take a look at how WebRTC will benefit education from a technical perspective. For a start, WebRTC is more secure than a lot of other video streaming technologies out there like Flash. Because WebRTC is peer-to-peer based, it has extra encryption to ensure that users’ privacy is secure. This is particularly beneficial for younger students who may be using online learning facilities.
From a learner’s perspective, there’s also the added benefit of not having to install any particular software in order to start learning. WebRTC is supported by most browsers, which means everything that a student might need technology-wise is already installed as part of their browser. Unlike other video streaming technology, WebRTC doesn’t require plugins, which are often prone to crashing. With WebRTC, learners will benefit from having a smoother, more reliable connection.
Learners Will Have Access to Keynote Speakers
Booking the brightest minds to give a talk at a local university or college isn’t always possible. With WebRTC however, guest speakers can broadcast themselves to a whole lecture room and to anyone online who wants to listen. WebRTC can also enable students to participate in discussions with the speaker throughout the presentation, offering a viable alternative to having the speaker there in person.
WebRTC enables students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to be taught by experts, to experience first-hand, the knowledge of thought leaders.
It Will Encourage Location Independent Learning
For some students, travelling to attend university or (any other learning environment) just isn’t possible. With WebRTC, learners can access online course material, have regular catch ups with teachers or lecturers, participate in group discussions and have just as rich a learning experience as they would attending a course in person.
Teaching Modules Can be Revisited
One of the biggest benefits of WebRTC is the ability to record video conferences. This is particularly useful for students who want to look back over lectures or seminars, or for those who were unable to attend a particular event.
Learners Will Have Greater Access to Teaching of Specialist Subjects
With WebRTC, students with an interest in niche subjects are more able to access courses and materials. There’s no need to wait until a specialist course opens up, or to travel in order to attend a specific university or college. With the connectivity that WebRTC enables, even the most unconventional subjects can be studied at a learner’s convenience.
In a nutshell, WebRTC benefits users from a technical usability perspective as well as a practical one. As the online education industry continues to grow, students will have more access to education materials that would otherwise only be reserved for those in the right location at the right time.