9 Replies Latest reply: Mar 15, 2011 7:58 AM by mrgdevito RSS

How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?

awolf New User
Currently Being Moderated

We have videoconferencing software in our district, and it is my job to train  teachers/administrators how to use it.  The question I am asked the most is what are some ideas as to how I can use it within my curriculum?  So far my answers have been:  connect classes together for a debate, collaboration on a project, review for a test, practice special skills, etc., parent/teacher conferences for those parents who cannot come to the school, conference with an author, scientist, specialist, etc., virtual field trips, and to hold meetings virtually.  Are there other ideas out there and how do you encourage people to use it?

  • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
    mjohnson Novice
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi!

     

    Welcome to the Verizon Thinkfinity Community and thanks for the great question. I am the director of a cooperative in Minnesota that uses video conferencing extensively in our schools. We have used interactive video conferences in nearly every grade level and curriculum area. Here are some activities our schools have done...

     

    • Health and anatomy classes have observed and interacted with doctors and other surgical room personnel during live surgical procedures. We have also viewed live autopsies and cadaver demonstrations.
    • Elementary and secondary science classes have experienced live, interactive demonstrations from museums, wildlife sanctuaries, National Parks, NASA, aquariums and more. Students are able to ask questions and interact with the scientists, naturalists and presenters.
    • We have had many conferences with historical sites, interpretive museums, civic organizations, theater groups, etc.
    • Classroom collaborations are becoming more popular as more schools install video conference equipment. We have had foreign language classes interact with schools around the globe. Elementary classrooms have collaborated on storytelling projects. Multiple classrooms have participated together in mystery quests where they do presentations and research on various topics.

     

    There are many other examples as well, but hopefully this gives you some ideas. Thinkfinity has a few resources about videoconferencing. One example from Read, Write, Think, that may have a link or two that would help you get started can be found at this "favorite resource" of mine. You may also want to take a look at the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration web site for more information and a searchable database of video conference content providers.

     

    Hope that helps, feel free to contact me if you have additional questions and, again, welcome to the Thinkfinity Community!

     

    Marc Johnson

    Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host

    • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
      awolf New User
      Currently Being Moderated

      Thank you for such a detailed answer to my question.  Our district bought a videoconferencing product and hired me to get it up and running this school year.  I am retiring in 9 days.  Anyway, we have used it to connect to American soldiers in Iraq. We did a conference with a monk in Thailand for our IB high school students.  We did several Challenger Learning Center e-mission trips.  It  was used for several interviews for positions opened in our district.

       

      I have built an Excel Spread sheet full of virtual field trips, museums, live webcams, etc.  Some of the trips are live and others are in the form of webquests.  I am hoping that the people I have trained will continue to move this forward and use it in the ways that you have used it. 

       

      Do the videoconferences that the health and anatomy classes have done come with a price?

       

      I did try very hard to get teachers at all grade levels to connect classes together and do debates, collaboration on projects, discuss books, etc., but it just didn't happen.  

       

      Maybe because this is our first year, teachers are hesitant to use it.  I am hoping more needs for it will arise in the coming year.

       

      Where can I find the people to connect to, to arrange conferences for the live surgeries, medical procedures, autopsies, etc?

       

      Thank you again for you valuable information.  Ruth Wolf

      • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
        mjohnson Novice
        Currently Being Moderated

        Ruth:

         

        Congratulations on your retirement! You took on quite a challenge in your last year and it sounds like you've started your school off in the right direction with interactive videoconferencing. We have found in our cooperative that it takes a lot of one-on-one work with staff to get them involved in video conferencing. Once they have a good experience, they often take off on their own. Getting to that point can be the challenge.

         

        Try this link to the Center  for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) for more information on content providers and collaboration opportunities. If you click on "Content Provider Programs" or "Collaborations" on the CILC front page. Enter "surgery", "autopsy" or "cadaver" in the search area to find lists of programs available on those topics. Most of those do carry a price tag of anywhere from $150 to $250. However, you will find lots of free programs (on other topics) there as well. In the "Collaborations" area, you can find schools looking for collaboration opportunities as well as post your own requests for collaboration.

         

        Incidentally, The Smithsonian Institution (of which the National Museum of American History is a Verizon Thinkfinity partner) has a number of free videoconference programs. They are also cataloged at the CILC site.

         

        Hope that helps. Please feel free to send those who will carry this torch after your retirement our way here in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community and we can continue this conversation.

         

        Ruth, you have a wonderful summer and a great retirement!

         

        Take Care,

         

        Marc Johnson

        Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host

  • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
    JennyAtAmericanHistory Novice
    Currently Being Moderated

    You might be able to stress the "real life" connections that can be made over video conferencing. Since motivation can be such a struggle with some students, a quick video conference with a specialist in the field can give more explanation of how content connects to real life.

    Also, videoconferencing can be great because it allows students to connect through spoken language and listening. Reluctant writers might be more interested in writing to penpals if they've already "met" via video conference.

    • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
      mjohnson Novice
      Currently Being Moderated

      Jenny:

       

      You are absolutely right on about the "real life" and interactive part of video conferencing. That is so very important to the experience and it does open kids up to try new things, ask questions and explore. It is a social aspect that they don't get from a DVD, textbook or even most computer activities. It is fun to see them consumed by the experience.

       

      We had a video conference in a health class that involved a cadaver demonstration and as the students were walking in, a student saw the video screen on and asked, "what kind of lame video are we going to see today?" The presenter leaned into the camera and said, "this ain't no lame video son, I'm live." He then proceeded to bring the entire class into his lab (virtually) and even this student was asking questions and actively participating. It was a powerful example of how interactive video can be an engaging learning process. I hope to hear more examples!

       

      Thanks Jenny!

       

      Marc Johnson

      Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host

    • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
      awolf New User
      Currently Being Moderated

      Yes, Jenny, you are so right with the relevancy.  Our 21st Century learners ( and really all of our learners from the past) tune us out if they see no need for the "information".  I do think that videoconferencing makes things so much more "real" to them and not only engages them but connects their learning to real life. We should have been making these connections more real even when I was in school, and that was a long time ago.

       

      Thank you, Ruth

      • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
        kallen Novice
        Currently Being Moderated

        I completely agree! We just had a great experience videoconferencing with a school in Ghana (I wrote about it here:

        http://community.thinkfinity.org/groups/stphilipsacademy/blog/2011/03/11/videoconferencing-with-ghana--what-they-taught-us )

         

        While it was connected to a unit the students were doing about the Kingdom of Askum in history, the facts they learned were of less importance then creating the personal connection to the country, seeing why that country's culture mattered to its citizens and making the learning more tangible and important to them.

         

        We've used videoconferencing with museums and other groups in the past, to varying success. Oftentimes it's similar to a lecture-based experience and while interesting, not as impactful as some Skype-sessions where the students get to ask more questions and interact. I think the key to succesful learning with videoconference is combining the opportunity to observe in ways the students couldn't otherwise with the opportunity to ask questions and interact (so it's less watching a neat documentary and a little more about personalizing the documentary). I have found if I make sure to erquest that be worked into the lesson when using vendors through CILC they try to accommodate that request, but I do need to ask.

        • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
          mjohnson Novice
          Currently Being Moderated

          Hi Katrina!

           

          Bingo! It is all about the interaction with students. If it is lecture-based, it might be good content, but it might as well be a DVD. In addition to the example about the cadaver program I mentioned above, my organization has worked closely with the Minnesota Historical Society as they have developed a number of IVC programs. During their development process, they came into our schools and watched dozens of live programs to find out what worked best. Their conclusion is exactly what you indicated, opportunities to observe things they couldn't otherwise and lots of interactivity. The MHS sends out information to teachers before the IVC and involves students in role-playing during the program. They do an excellent job.

           

          Anytime I get the chance to talk to program providers, I stress the need for interactivity.

           

          Marc Johnson

          Verizon Thinkfinity Community Host

  • Re: How do you use videoconferencing within your curriculum?
    mrgdevito New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    In the Music Recording and Technology class I teach in the fall, all my students use MacBooks and MacMinis.  I have the students use iChat to video conference with each other to ask questions to their peers, or to communicate with me.  iChat allows us to share screens as well, giving me control over their mouse.  This way, they can be in a recording room and not have to track me down if I'm working with another student. 

    We have also used this to video chat with a couple people I know who are in the recording industry in L.A. and Nashville. 

    The students really like it because it looks just like AOL Instant Messenger so they are already familiar with how to use it; and I like it because I can also connect my Smartphone to my iChat screen name; allowing me to respond to questions when I am not at my computer. 

    Oh, one quick note.  All students create brand new screen names for me, and their settings are so that all chats are logged into a history. This helps me insure they are only using iChat during class for class, and it also keeps a record of any chat history between myself and the students or the students themselves.  We have not yet had any issues with cyber-bullying using this program, and this will help insure we never do. 

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