I see great potential in the use of visuals for course content. As an online teacher I already embed pictures, videos, and webinars into my courses. One of the pitfalls of online is the amount of reading we insist students do. Creating a video allows for differentiated instruction as well as a different kind of class intimacy (no, not that kind please).
When you combine videos with opportunities to interface through Hangouts, Skype, or WeChat there are more opportunities to experiences virtual classrooms.
There remains the issue of students who don’t have reliable Internet access, or who don’t “get it”. As an instructor of Eportfolio I find myself on the phone with students talking them through what they are seeing on their side. This requires absolutely CLEAR communication, and an understanding by the student to NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING WITHOUT PERMISSION. Sometimes they “get it” and click ahead. Then we are both lost in the darkness of the telephone trying to talk each other back-to-center. It can be very frustrating.
I don’t believe anything will replace the sound of a voice or the nonverbal communication of seeing a face. Being a human is about being connected, and NOT isolated. Online can further distance some kinds of students in a detrimental way. Creating opportunities for live-time interactions can help bridge that gap.
But it is necessary to “reach out and touch someone” as the old telephone ads promoted. It is easy to make assumptions about students ( and teachers) who aren’t showing up in a course. We have to be very mindful. It is our responsibility as instructors to engage students to the best of our ability.