Tag Archives: Content Providers

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!

Favorite Videoconference: Brownsburg Challenger Learning Center

I’m still cleaning our old website, and archiving old things here on my blog. These are featured articles and video clips on our favorite content providers from 2000-2001 and we still love these providers and programs!

Content Provider
The Brownsburg Challenger Learning Center is a learning laboratory where students experience simulated space missions. BCLC also offers interactive distance learning programs written and presented by our flight directors. Integrating science, math, and technology, the Challenger experience fosters curiosity, discovery, and the pursuit of lifelong learning.

“This is a great program. Entirely interactive-no real presentation. The students go right to work. This was a little pricey but in my opinion it was well worth it.””The principle was that our students were based on the moon and they were to guide another group of students who were at the
center. The other group of students were trying to decide a location on the moon to land. Both groups interacted directly with mission control. This made it very realistic.”


Alpha Base One
Alpha Base One (your class) has been living on the Moon. The Alpha Base Two Team is enroute to the Moon and needs your assistance!! Your students will conduct hands-on experiments to acquire information that is vital to the success of the mission in progress and communicate directly with Mission Control. You have one hour to complete the simulation successfully. Good luck, Mission Specialists! This program offered during the months of October, November, January, and February. Video clip from March 21, 2001. Get QuickTime.

Budget Dust: Invest in VC for Next School Year

As the end of the school year looms, are you also cleaning up accounts and spending last bits of funds? 

Doug Johnson has blogged in the past about ways to spend “budget dust“. I think it’s a great term to describe that last little bit to spend at the end of the school year.

If you want to invest in your videoconferencing for next year, there are two excellent options. Both options allow you to spend this year’s money and use it for programs in the next school year (or even later if you want/need)…

CILC Content Dollar Bank

  • Minimum $5,000 deposit required
  • 20% service fee
  • Funds can be used on all programming on CILC including content providers, professional development, CILC Spotlights, and special events
  • If your district requires preferred vendor documentation, just do it once instead of for each provider!
  • Reduces scheduling hassle
  • More info online

Whirlidurb Membership

  • Minimum membership is $595 and you can get a custom quote.
  • No service fee
  • Access to a wide range of engaging high quality programs for K-8 students
  • Reduces scheduling hassle
  • The certification process eliminates test calls!
  • More info online

Bonus: TWICE Membership

While you’re at it, if you are a TWICE member (or were thinking about it), you might as well buy membership for next school year too!

  • Discounts on ASK program author and specialist interviews
  • Access to special facilitated projects such as Holiday Hoopla and Poetry Idol!
  • Learn more online

Plan now to expand or sustain your videoconference program for next school year!

A Good VC is Curation; A Good Lesson is Curation

Roxanne Glaser often sends me interesting ideas that I mull over. In the last several months, I’ve been thinking about her comments about curation. You’ll find that some people are suggesting that in the noise of social media, curation is “the next big thing”. For example:

Teaching is Curation

I’ve been thinking about….

  • how people are applying curation to the “noise” of the web
  • the poor search results on typical elementary research topics
  • the rumblings I’ve heard from a laptop school where teachers in higher grades grumble about the quality of scholastic skills from those students
  • the content generated sites at the top of search engines… sites that are jammed with ads and have low level quality content created for a few cents a page

I think that good teaching is curation….

  • Choosing an instructional design that meets the needs and interests of the students
  • Selecting the best resources to teach that concept
  • Creating a comfortable yet challenging learning environment
  • Selecting a few good information sources (not just Google!) for student project based learning
  • Teaching students to select quality information sources for their own research

A Good Videoconference is Curation

Arielle from The Cleveland Museum of Art presenting: “Race” is a Four Letter Word

I’ve been thinking about quality, engaging videoconferences….

  • Many are offered by museums who are already great at curation…
  • It’s true that teachers could collect the images and video clips and resources to teach a lesson the same as the videoconference; but it’s packaging all that which is hard.
  • Many awesome videoconferences are packaged lessons full of rich, visual resources…
  • Good teaching in a good videoconference is curation!

Find a Good Videoconference

Even as budgets tighten, there is still usually funding for instructional resources… great videoconferences are another excellent choice of instructional resources.

Favorite Videoconference: U.S. House of Representatives

I’m still cleaning our old website, and archiving old things here on my blog. These are featured articles and video clips on our favorite content providers from 2000-2001 and we still love these providers and programs!

Content Provider
United States House of Representatives housed in Washington, D.C. began with its first Congress March 4, 1789. It was not until recently Congress had the ability to use e-mail and videoconferencing to communicate to constituents. Teachers can videoconference to the House of Representatives by contacting their Representatives FIRST then the House of Representatives Videoconference Director.

“I learned about his views on different topics, such as laws and regulations.”

“I think this experience was wonderful because in this case we could talk with US congress and ask about our questions, and hear about other questions in other schools.”


Interview with Your Congressman
This conversation with Mr. Upton is tailored to the students questions. Teachers and students work ahead of time to generate questions on various current issues. During the video conference Mr. Upton will introduce himself and the schools participating will take turns asking their questions.

Video clip from March 13, 2000. Get QuickTime.

Favorite Videoconference: U.S. Senate

I’m still cleaning our old website, and archiving old things here on my blog. These are featured articles and video clips on our favorite content providers from 2000-2001 and we still love these providers and programs!

Content Provider
United States Senate in Washington, D.C. houses two Senators from each state. Through the power of videoconferencing it is possible to visit a Senator for a unique “Capitol experience.” Arrangements must be made ahead of time by contacting the office of the Senator first; then the videoconference center. The school must sustain any costs of the videoconference.

“I thought it was wonderful. It was really weird at first because you’re talking to a television. I learned a lot because you get to listen and then ask questions about anything that you don’t understand, which was great.”


Interview with Your Senator
This program consists of a short presentation by the Senator followed by a question and answer period. The Senator will also have some questions for the students. Students prepare questions ahead of time. Question time will be shared among the schools participating. Video clip from May 15, 2000. Get QuickTime.

Favorite Videoconference: Columbus Zoo

I’m still cleaning our old website, and archiving old things here on my blog. These are featured articles and video clips on our favorite content providers from 2000-2001 and we still love these providers and programs!

Content Provider
Visit the Zoo without ever leaving your classroom! The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium broadcasts videoconferencing programs directly from animal exhibits, and incorporates a variety of hands-on activities into every class. Each teacher will receive a teacher packet upon scheduling a program. This packet will contain information and materials for each session, as well as ideas for pre- and post-visit activities.

“The technology helped in answering questions that we felt needed to be answered.”

Grade 3 Student

Magnificent Manatees
Come with us on a rare underwater adventure as we visit the world of the West Indian Manatee. Students will become scientists as they explore these marine mammals through interdisciplinary activities. Video clip from March 24, 2000. Get QuickTime.

Favorite Videoconference: Center for Puppetry Arts

I’m still cleaning our old website, and archiving old things here on my blog. These are featured articles and video clips on our favorite content providers from 2000-2001 and we still love these providers and programs!

Content Provider
The Center for Puppetry Arts uses the latest technology to offer nationwide Distance Learning programs for K-12. Hands-on puppet building workshops are conducted via videoconferencing and are tailored to specific classroom topics and curriculum. The arts are infused with science, social studies, language arts and other disciplines to create a dynamic, interactive virtual classroom for a virtual field trip experience. Programs complements national curriculum standards in language arts, social studies, science, math and other areas. The Center provides a comprehensive study guide and materials list.

“I loved the videoconference. It helped me get a better learning experience.”


Each student will construct a Butterfly Marionette while participating in learning activities about the lifecycle of the butterfly, what makes a butterfly an insect, coloring and camouflage, moths, and the similarities and differences between caterpillars and butterflies. Video clips and photographs of the different stages in the life of a butterfly are included. This is a great arts and science lesson all in one! Video clip from May 24, 2000. Get QuickTime.

2011 Teachers' Favorite Awards: Vote by May 19

Thank you to everyone who has already voted! If you haven’t, please vote soon!

Berrien RESA is hosting 6th Annual Teacher’s Favorite Awards to select the Best Content Providers for the 2009-2010 school year. Results will be shared via the Berrien RESA VC Content Providers Database and the videoconferencing listservs.

Many of you use the Berrien RESA VC Content Providers Database.

Polycom has chosen to do a drawing for prizes to random participants of the survey to encourage participation. If you wish to be included in the drawing, add your contact information at the end of the survey. Polycom will select the winners randomly.

Click this link to vote for your favorite content providers in each category

You must complete the survey by May 19, 2011 to be included in the drawing but voting will be open through June 3.

Please share this announcement with your local videoconferencing colleagues. We welcome entries from teachers, even if they vote in only one category/subject area.

Thank you for taking the time to vote!

Exciting Changes in the VC Industry

Did you see these blog posts yesterday?

And, in other news:

All these changes raise several questions:

  • If schools want to connect to content providers and other classrooms globally, what should they buy?
  • If content providers want to upgrade their current systems or start providing programs for schools what should they buy? (Seems to me a LifeSize Passport might be an interesting choice for the ability to send high quality content to both H.323 advanced videoconference systems and to Skype. But does it have enough inputs for all the great visuals content providers share with us?)
  • Do all these changes make it so that teachers need less or more support figuring out how to connect to whoever they want to bring to their classroom? My gut is they need more. What do you think? Seems like full service support providers such as Whirlidurb can make this much more seamless for schools. The array of choices and options is getting dizzying!
  • If you were going to use videoconferencing for full length courses now, what kind of videoconferencing would you choose?

Your Turn

What questions and potential changes do you see from these developments? Please comment!