Category Archives: Videoconferencing

We the Kids: Constitution Day

PbWorks is cleaning house and deleting wikis, so I’m archiving one of my wikis here on my blog. This one was for a videoconference project.

We the Kids

In this pilot collaborative project, students will study the six phrases of the preamble and present non-linguistic representations to each other to explain the parts of the preamble. These materials were used for a TWICE We the Kids event on November 20, 2008.

Preparation Materials

Preparation Lesson Plan

  • Center for Civic Education Lesson plan along with lesson audio (mp3) and teacher audio (mp3) (or get the files directly here).This lesson explores some the ideas in the Preamble to the Constitution. Students learn the importance of the words, “We the People.” The lesson emphasizes that the power to govern belongs to the people who have created the government to protect their rights and promote their welfare. Students read the Preamble and develop definitions for the six key phrases in the document.

Preparing for the Videoconference

  • Within your classroom, have all the students illustrate the 6 key phrases/stanzas of the preamble with a nonlinguistic representation (drawing, graph, mind map, physical movement, skit, rap, etc – can be done with or without technology). You can do this in groups or individually as you see fit. See lesson plan above.
    • Nonlinguistic representation overview
  • Then choose the representations to present to the other class. Classroom A is assigned the odd numbered phrases; Classroom B is assigned the even numbered phrases as listed below.
  • Tips for Posters (from another project, but principles still apply). You don’t have to use posters, but if you do, consider those tips!

Six Phrases

  • Classroom A – Phrase 1: do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
  • Classroom B – Phrase 2: establish justice
  • Classroom A – Phrase 3: insure domestic tranquility
  • Classroom B – Phrase 4: provide for the common defense
  • Classroom A – Phrase 5: promote the general welfare
  • Classroom B – Phrase 6: secure the blessings of liberty

Videoconference Agenda

  • 5-10 min. Introductions from both classes – where are you, a bit about your school & area, etc.
  • 10-20 min. Exchange presentations on the phrases in order.
  • 5 min. Say/read the full preamble together. (enjoy the bit of the delay/echo of the other class saying it too!)
  • 5-10 min. Ask each other questions.

Highly Recommended Books

  • We the Kids
  • Order the free We the People (upper elementary) books. You have to order a free book and then after that you can get a classroom set. From the website: ” The Center for Civic Education provides a limited number of free sets of materials to teachers wishing to participate in the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. Priority is given to teachers at any grade level who agree to hold a We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution culminating hearing.”

Other Recommended Books

Videoconferencing: Discover the Possibilities

This post contains the links and resources referenced in the 2012 NAD Teachers’ Convention (North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists) session titled Videoconferencing: Discover the Possibilities.


Content Providers

ASK Programs


VC Technology

Presentation PPT


Videoconference Playground at ISTE

Yesterday was the 2nd annual Video conference Playground at the ISTE 2011 Conference.

For those of you who missed this amazing event, here are a few resources you should review!

Captain Roxanne Glaser led an amazing team of pirate deck hands and volunteers! Hope YOU participate next year!

Pirate Captain Roxanne Glaser and @Tparks, pirate volunteer

(Thanks @TParks for the photo!)

Check Flickr next week for more pictures from the playground.

Thanking my Pirate Helpers

I had over 100 participants in my ISTE Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) session on CAPspace today (Collaborations Around the Planet). Great attendance, but wow, what a lot of people!

I knew I couldn’t handle it myself, with all the account creation and questions. So, I recruited several of the SIG IVC pirates to assist me. You should know them and friend them on CAPspace!!

Sue Porter

Lori Colwill

Amy Spath

Audra May

Elaine Shuck

Anne-Marie Miller

They were all decked out in aweomse pirate gear! Audra has the pictures, and they should be posted in the SIG IVC Flickr site in the next day or two.

In addition, Roxanne Glaser, Whirlidurb‘s Content Director, and Pirate Captain helped me chunk the workshop to best take advantage of the pirate assistance.

Thank you pirates for making such a smooth BYOL session!

Hope you all can visit the Videoconference Playground at ISTE tomorrow!

Collaborations Around the Planet: Social Networking for Educational Videoconferencing

Links for today’s ISTE Bring Your Own Laptop workshop:

More about standards-based videoconferencing:

BYOL Workshop Evaluation

Additional resources



Designing Quality Videoconference Projects

ISTE workshop this morning! Here are links and resources Roxanne Glaser and I are using in the workshop:

Our Websites


Skype Resources

Sample Projects


Other Project Posting Sites

Additional Resources

Workshop Evaluation

Board Meetings via Videoconference

The TWICE board has been meeting over videoconference since we started in 2001. The “Jazz workshop” leadership have always met over videoconferencing since it started in 2005.

So it’s a little amusing to me to read articles like this one from the Wall Street Journal. (Unfortunately I’m a little slow in blogging this 4/25/11 article, so you can only read the full article with a subscription now.)

As videoconferencing technology becomes more sophisticated, it is slowly moving up the corporate ladder to the boardroom.

In the article, board of director concerns with videoconferencing were listed while also describing the growing use of VC:

  • people feeling “at a distance”
  • people getting less involved over VC than they would face to face
  • lack of ability to have side conversations

You may think of additional issues from your experience.

On the TWICE board, we have tried to bridge the distance in a variety of ways:

  • Side conversations with a back channel chat tool such as Skype
  • A “roundtable” section at the end of the agenda for people to share their projects, programs, ideas, questions, issues
  • People make appointments with each other after the meeting for further conversation or switch to the phone after the VC
  • The chair of the meeting with call specifically on people who haven’t commented recently
  • We use the split screen to have everyone seen
  • We use thumbs up or similar gestures for voting or getting attention or requesting the floor
  • We meet TWICE a year face to face
  • We try to be deliberate about collaborating and connecting with each other outside of the official board meetings

What tips would you add for making videoconference board meetings more effective?

Interviews via Videoconference

Well, it’s job interview season, and so I thought I’d share some links and resources for interviewing via videoconference.

What about you? Have you experienced a job interview via videoconference? From either the employer or prospective employee perspective? Tips or suggestions? Please comment!

HD projectors in schools… or lack thereof

Do you know any schools that have all HD projectors in the classrooms yet?

Plug and Play

I remember the days of the Polycom Viewstation and VSX 7000, when you could just buy the codec, and plug it into any projector in any classroom in the school (via S-Video).

No HD!

Now, I have a school looking to replace a unit, and we’ve run into a bit of a problem! The classrooms don’t have HD projectors! The new projectors they are buying this summer are NOT HD projectors!

So… if they want to invest in a new Polycom HDX or Tandberg Edge or C20… they need an HD display! Which they don’t have in the classrooms.

You can no longer buy a codec and run it around the school / district plugging into whatever display is in the classroom. Is that really true? Please someone, prove me wrong!

Where did the middle go?

Does it seem this way to you?

  • Hardware based videoconferencing has moved up and is getting out of reach of “do-ability” for schools…
  • Skype is super easy, but not H.323 and difficult use a pan/tilt/zoom camera with it…
  • Where’s the middle option?

Is desktop VC getting more attractive?

Does it seem to you also that for ease of use and implementation through the whole school it might be easier to use desktop videoconferencing pushed beyond it’s design limits to show and share for the whole classroom? instead of trying to get the hardward based – HD videoconferencing working?

I still like carts

I still like the ease of use of videoconference carts. But I was hoping we’d be able to soon have solutions that could be in every classroom. But a cart with an HD flat screen might still be the way to make VC the simplest for teachers. No fiddling with the settings and connections as you have to for desktop VC solutions.

I suspect the vendors think HD is the way to go now; but don’t realize that K12 schools are a few years away from having a proliferation of HD projectors.

Just thinking out loud here… do you agree? Do you notice this problem also? Is it just that our area is more rural and funds are tighter? How is it in your area? Please comment!

Reflecting on MysteryQuests Over a Decade

As I’ve finished up the MysteryQuest USA and HistoryQuest5 sessions this spring, I’ve been thinking about how our experiences with the MysteryQuests have changed over the years.

With Learning Space in 2000-2004

Our early experiences with this were with the Washington state based group Learning Space.

  • 8 classes connected at a time
  • The facilitator was at one of the classrooms
  • We all connected via ISDN
  • Everyone used maps and print materials to guess… computers / laptops weren’t available
  • 2.5 hours didn’t seem too long

Early MysteryQuest World sessions

You can watch a clip from the early quests here.

  • 6 classes presented at a time
  • Cities presented weren’t too small – they had to be on standard maps
  • I don’t remember the students struggling with taking notes
  • ISDN and H.261 made for low quality connections; but everyone loved the challenge of it!

This spring

Is it just me? I seemed to notice more issues this spring:

  • Students are really struggling with taking notes – how to identify the keyword to write down. It’s showing up in teacher evaluation comments.
  • Classes on a whole have struggled to make clues that are clear and easy to write down. I think teachers have less prep time due to ever tightening and more constrictive/restrictive curriculum.
  • I saw more evidence of less practiced presentations – which I would guess is also due to less time to devote to the project.
  • Almost every class is connecting from the classroom or the library (vs. the high school distance learning room in the early 2000s).
  • Laptops abound! Everyone seems to have much more access…
  • Much more variety in the variations on this format: 2.5 hours; 2 hours; 1.5 hours; even 45 minutes or point to point agendas!

Perish the thought, but do you think that in learning more “tech skills” students are losing their note taking and basic academic skills?  Some of you have participated in many MysteryQuests over the years. What do YOU think? How has it changed? What do you think of how it has changed?

Still, Students Love It!

Here’s a great quote from this year:

My students LOVED it. They were so busy looking for the states and cities. It was a great way to review what they had learned about geography and history this year. Parents have come to me and told me how excited the kids were about doing Mystery Quest. We LOVED it!

I think this format has consistently engaged students no matter their skill level throughout the decade or so we’ve been doing this. It remains a compelling, highly engaging and interactive videoconference format. Do you agree?