Kicking Off Videoconferencing in Your Area

On Wednesday this week, I had the privilege of talking to a group of media specialists from a county in Michigan that has very little access to videoconferencing. We started brainstorming ways they could get access to standards-based videoconferencing, and that got me thinking. What pieces do they need to have in place for a successful implementation. Here’s my initial list. What would you add?

Before any videoconference happens

  • Prep the network. Make sure videoconference will work well. Get quality of service. Iron out any networking issues. Give yourself a couple months leeway to work all this out. More details on this in a new 20 day challenge in January!
  • Test! Test from multiple classrooms if it’s a mobile unit. Try it out at different times of the day, and during different levels of network traffic. Make sure it’s going to work well all the time.
  • Select a VC coordinator. This could be a teacher, media aide, technology integration specialist, or similar position. The most important characteristic for the coordinator is willingness to schedule and the ability to get along with all the teachers. This person does NOT need to be a “techie”. More info about coordinators in our service area online here.
  • Train your VC coordinator. I provide all day coordinator training for my new coordinators, and we spend the majority of the time on the content: content providers, ASK programs, and collaborations. We also spend 30 min practicing dialing and using the remote, and discuss how to hook teachers on VC.

In the first year

  • Schedule a staff meeting demonstration. Do it early in the school year. Connect to a content provider or an author (Janie Panagopoulos is a great choice!) for a taste of what students will experience. Make sure it’s not a “talking head” but an interaction like the students would experience.
  • Require the school to schedule at least five videoconferences. Try to have them with 5 different teachers.

In the continuing years

  • Keep requiring at least five VCs.
  • In the first three years, try to get at least 5 different staff members through in depth training. I require my schools in grant implementations to participate in our online classes. The schools that have had staff participate in these classes are using VC more than the others.
  • Work to make sure the school experiences all the different kinds of programs: content providers, ASK programs, and collaborations. I have some schools that are still scared of collaborations. I can’t get them to do them! But if they have a view of the wide variety of VCs they can do, they are more likely to keep using it.
  • If you lose your coordinator, send another one to training. I make sure principals assign a new VC coordinator soon in the school year so the new person gets trained.

What else? What would be on your list?

2 replies on “Kicking Off Videoconferencing in Your Area”

  1. Janine,
    I really like your plan of progression for new schools.
    The only thing I might add is that I have found it very beneficial to establish a small team at the site instead of just one person. First, responsibilities can be divided, making it easier on all. Second, if one person leaves, the others can train the new person to fulfill that person’s tasks. I’ve seen this work really well.

    For those who do not have a ‘Janine’ available to help them in this way, CILC offers training as well!

    Thanks for your great post.
    Dawn

    • Janine Lim says:

      Dawn – do you have a recommendation for how that team is set up?

      In my area, the team consists of:
      1. The main VC coordinator who promotes VC, helps teachers sign up, and hooks up the VC for them.
      2. The tech coordinator, who helps when there are problems.
      3. The principal, who encourages teachers to use VC and helps find funding for programming.
      4. Me, providing technical support during the hook up, content – projects, ASK programs, etc., advertising VCs directly to teachers, and providing tech support to the tech coordinators when they make changes to their networks that affect VC.

      That’s a short version anyway. I’m curious what the teams you recommend look like….

      Janine

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