Here’s an essay question that your secondary level children may have plenty to write about, given the many reunion dinners that have been happening through video conferencing this festive season!


“Video conferencing tools are an excellent way for family members to gather during special occasions.” What are your views?


Sample Response:

Two years ago, if someone told me I would be having family dinner through a video conferencing tool, I would have scoffed at the idea. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely overturned my view of how people can interact. Having experienced gatherings conducted using video conferencing tools, I now appreciate just how useful they can be. In addition to saving participants time and money, they allow for large gatherings that would have been physically impossible. Indeed, during a pandemic, video conferencing is not a matter of choice but a matter of necessity, in terms of both complying with the law and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

Video conferencing was invented with one objective – to provide a platform for multiple parties at various locations to interact simultaneously in real-time. This relatively new technology presents many benefits and circumvents certain inconveniences associated with physical gatherings.

First, video conferencing tools help participants save on the cost and time of travelling. In today’s globalised world, it is not uncommon for families to have members living in different cities, countries and continents. Before the advent of video conferencing, this physical distance among family members could be bridged only with long hours on the plane or the road. Now with video conferencing, family members can be instantly connected by sight and sound at the click of a button. Family members no longer need to waste money on flight or bus tickets that are inevitably overpriced during festive seasons, or waste time on unproductive travelling.

Second, video conferencing tools enable an almost unlimited number of participants to join in a single gathering. A large extended family could gather virtually without worrying about logistical constraints that a physical venue would certain have. As an example, couples planning for their wedding dinner frequently fret over the guest list as they are constrained by the number of tables at the venue. Hosting a wedding dinner through video conference solves this problem as the couple will be able to invite as many family members as they wish.

The third benefit of hosting family gatherings through a video conferencing tool is one that has become apparent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During a pandemic, a physical gathering of a large number of people in close proximity, which is outlawed in certain countries, is a high-risk activity which could lead to a spike in infections. To exacerbate matters, most families tend have aged members who are more vulnerable to the effects of such infections. In this context, video conferencing tools are a literal lifesaver, offering the ultimate form of safe distancing while allowing family members to interact meaningfully in real-time during special occasions.

Opponents of video conferencing tools say the cumbersome hardware and software requirements deter the less technologically-savvy family members from participating. In truth, one does not need specialised hardware to run a video conferencing tool – any smart phone will do! In terms of learning how to use the tool, this is something that can be easily surmounted with five minutes of training. In many messaging apps, launching the video conferencing function is as simple as clicking on the appropriate icon.

As I have shown, video conferencing tools are an excellent tool for families to gather during special occasions. The benefits are manifold – it saves participants time and money, allows for large numbers at gatherings and protects vulnerable groups in times of a pandemic. Given how widely video conferencing is in use today, it seems like a technology that will become ubiquitous or even a new tradition of sorts for family gatherings going forward.

The sample response was written using the PEEL framework.

Paragraph 1: Making a stand and listing the points

Paragraph 2: Defining the function of a video conferencing tool

Paragraph 3: First point with elaboration, example and link

Paragraph 4: Second point with elaboration, example and link

Paragraph 5: Third point with elaboration, example and link

Paragraph 6: Opposing point raised, acknowledged and rebutted

Paragraph 7: Closing statement and summary of points

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