Tag Archives: Opinion Articles

Lit Review: Video Conferencing in the Classroom

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Arnold, T., Cayley, S., & Griffith, M. (2004). Videoconferencing in the classroom: Communications technology across the curriculum. In T. Arnold (Eds.). Available from http://www.global-leap.com/casestudies/book2/index.htm

Summary: This book of 97 pages is still one of the best resources for an overview to videoconferencing and how to use it in the classroom/curriculum. Authors include Mike Griffith, of Global Leap fame. It was originally published in 2002 and was updated in 2004.

The first chapter reviews the components of videoconferencing and provides suggestions and guidelines on purchasing equipment. This of course is a little dated, with ISDN still listed first, and concerns expressed about the quality of videoconferencing over the regular Internet. These problems aren’t as much of an issue as they were in 2004 and earlier.

The Getting Started section has suggestions for setting up, getting training, and some introductory videoconferences just like Cheryl is offering for her schools. There are step by step guidelines for making your first exploratory sessions a success.

The next section has extensive detail on how to plan for “the use of videoconferencing across the curriculum.” For each major curriculum area, there are a plethora of ideas for collaborations as well as connecting to experts. Non-UK readers will need to translate the references to the Key Stages.

The next section gives a detailed overview of the Global Leap website and the resources and tools found there for subscribing schools.

Section E has detailed information on preparing for the videoconference, including a nice list of best practice tips. Section F goes into further detail on videoconferencing technology and all the options and choices, followed by a detailed glossary.

The authors reflect on the future of videoconferencing in Section H, with specific requirements that would be useful for vendors hoping to improve their products for educational videoconferencing.

Comments: If you’re new to videoconferencing, this book is a must read! Download it now and review it carefully. Even experienced VCers will find tips and tricks to make videoconferencing in the curriculum more effective.

Lit Review: The educational use of videoconferencing in the arts faculty

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Badenhorst, Z., & Axmann, M. (2002). The educational use of videoconferencing in the arts faculty: Shedding a new light on puppetry. British Journal of Educational Technology, 33(3), 291-299. doi:10.1111/1467-8535.00264

Summary. This article summarizes a videoconference project where art students in South Africa videoconferenced with the Handspring Puppet Company in Cape Town, learned about the planning of an upcoming production, and then videoconferenced again immediately after the production was performed in Belgium.

The article describes each stage of the project. A detailed review of the different types of videoconferencing is included (but not IP H.323 videoconferencing because this was from 2002).

The article also reflects on the feedback from the learners and the assessement of the learning. The students were able to get immediate feedback to their questions and to see real-world applications of their learning.

They found that a well structured agenda with questions prepared ahead of time was crucial. Extensive preparation and organization was required to make the videoconference happen. This hints at the need for staff to coordinate and support videoconference. In addition, the authors suggest that a fixed room with appropriate lighting is best suited for the location of videoconference equipment. “There is justification for support personnel to maintain and run the eqiupment and leave the educators free to concentrate on the learning process” (p. 297).

Interestingly, this article defined Instructional Television (ITV) as two way audio and one way video. I haven’t see this definition before, but it makes sense and obviously at one point meant that. Shows how important terms can be, and how much they change.

Reflection: This article emphasized the importance of planning, organization and coordination, in addition to tech support. These are definitely important pieces for a successful implementation.

I wonder if they did any more VCs after this article, and what they are doing now!

"A Collaboration Nation"

In an “open letter to our government leaders,” Wainhouse Research recommends that the United States aim to be a “collaboration nation.”

The impact of turning the United States (or any other country) into an e-nation with an extensive telecommuting program could be sensational in turns of its high return, low cost, low risk, and immediate effect. Replacing 20M automobiles (a fraction of what is on the road today) with hybrids would cost approximately $500 billion while the investments to enable 20M telecommuters would be on the order of $2.5B. Taking 20M cars off the roads on a daily basis would save on emissions while also lightening the load on our nation’s highways.

A federal-government lead effort to become a “collaboration nation” should go a long way towards ridding our dependence on foreign oil and liberating our foreign policy, improving the environment, and helping the United States regain its leadership position in the global economy.

Read more here. What do you think? Visionary? Extravagant? Crazy? Are we too stuck on face to face communication? What do YOU think? Please comment….

Using VC for Homebound Students

Here’s an interesting article published in Feb/March. Did you read it?

A Healthy Education

Videoconferencing allows a Florida boy with an immune system deficiency to attend school for the first time.

Kevin O’Connell is a typical third grader at Spring Hill Elementary. He jumps up from his chair and recites the Pledge of Allegiance with his classmates. He huddles with his small reading group and reads a story when it’s his turn. And when he knows an answer, he raises his hand and patiently waits for his teacher to notice him in the back of the classroom. The only difference is, he’s actually attending class at home.

Take a moment to read it. It’s a pretty cool example of using VC to bring full courses to students.

K12 VC Learning Theory

I like to see what search terms people type in that get to my blog. Often I learn about new resources and tools that way. For example, someone found my blog with the search “k12 videoconference learning theory” so I tried it to and found:

Strategies for Using Videoconferencing Technology in the K-12 Classroom:
A Teacher’s Digital Handbook

This site is a wealth of information laid out in a creative engaging manner. You should definitely take some time to explore it. For example, what is your model of videoconferencing? and this is the page that applies learning theory to videoconferencing. Check it out & consider how you are using videoconferencing. Do these frameworks apply to you?

Lit Review: World's youth connect through Global Nomads Group: An interview with GNG's David Macquart

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Morrison, J., & Macquart, D. (2006). World’s youth connect through Global Nomads Group: An interview with GNG’s David Macquart. Innovate, 2(4).

Author: Morrison, J and Macquart, D
Title of article: World’s youth connect through Global Nomads Group: An interview with GNG’s David Macquart
Publication year: 2006
Database source: Innovate
Name of journal: Innovate
My Codes: VCContentProviders

Main Point: This article is an interview between Innovate’s editor and one of Global Nomads Group (GNG)’s founders. The article shares the history of GNG, it’s impact, features some of the programs, and shares the challenges.

Theoretical Framework/References: Not applicable, not a research study. The one reference is used to show that Americans lack in cultural understanding.

Methods, Sample, Variables/Case:  Not applicable, not a research study.

Findings: Not applicable, not a research study.

Author/Audience: The audience is the Innovate readership.

The article shows how the vision of a few to meet the needs of students can expand to a respected non-profit organization.

GNG has offered some incredible international programs, but they are often only offered that one year. This makes it hard to “institutionalize” the learning. GNG wishes to offer more programs more consistently, but is hampered by funding issues. Nevertheless, many of our students have benefited from the incredible learning experiences offered by GNG.

“Most of the issues addressed in our programs continue to challenge governments and international institutions….” GNG certainly doesn’t skirt around tough issues. They have the facilitation expertise to deal with tough issues too. I’ve experienced their facilitation skills both in training and with students

This article provides anecdotal evidence of the power of videoconferencing to bring experiences and interactions to students that would be impossible otherwise.

Lit Review: Videoconferencing exposes students to new worlds

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

WMHO. (2002). Videoconferencing exposes students to new worlds. T.H.E. (Technological Horizons in Education) Journal, 29(8).

Author: Ward Melville Heritage Organization (or THE Journal staff? it isn’t clear)
Title of article:
Videoconferencing exposes students to new worlds.
Publication year: 2002
Database source: T.H.E. Journal
Name of journal: T.H.E. Journal
My Codes:

Main Point: Videoconferencing allows a non-profit science organization to protect the salt marsh wetlands and still educate students about it. It allows WHMO to reach more students than would be possible with onsite visits.

This isn’t a research article and does not include a theoretical framework or any research data or references to other work. Well, page 3 says,”research has shown” the benefits of VC, but no references are provided. A few sentences describe teachers’ feedback from the sessions.

The article describes how WMHO transformed an on-site field trip to a 45-60 minute engaging interactive curriculum-based program for videoconferencing. The program includes a learning kit with lesson plans, worksheets, activities, and a CD-ROM with additional resources. The article describes the visuals shown, including some innovative cameras that allow for visuals right from the water’s edge.

The article describes the reach of the programs – locally in the tri-state area and to several other states as well and mentions 12,000 students served.

While not a research article, this article does describe one aspect of curriculum videoconferencing – the content provider experience.

Is Synchronous Distance Learning Worth the Trouble?

Roxanne’s post on the Face Time article in THE Journal reminded me that I wanted to blog about it. The article covers collaborative videoconferences such as Read Around the Planet and Monster Match, as well as the new Collaborations Around the Planet site. Overall it’s a great article, and you should read it.

I, however, wanted to express my angst on how the article ended. It closed with this from an e-learning vendor (emphasis mine):

Real-time communication technologies like videoconferencing, Ericson points out, require synchronous interactions, which rob users of one of the most valuable qualities of web-based networking: the ability to time shift—to interact with others whether or not they’re online with you at the same time. E-mail, blogs, and wikis all allow for time-shifted interactions; online chat rooms and virtual communities such as Second Life require you be there at the same time as those with whom you are communicating.

“One of the big advantages of virtual education and learning,” Ericson says, “is that you can do things on demand, when you want to. We do believe that chatting and videoconferencing have a place. But in our model, it’s not as valuable as allowing students to participate in the community on their own terms, whenever and wherever they are. The idea of forcing a synchronous model, where everyone is on at the same time, well, that’s what a classroom is for.”


First of all, you should know that not only am I crazy about VC, I also have taught nine different online classes several times each since 1999. I am taking two online classes right now, and will start teaching two next week. I love the reflection and thoughtfulness in online classes.

But, I don’t think it’s fair to compare synchronous vs. asynchronous distance learning and say one is “more valuable” than another. I also think it is definitely not fair to have a vendor with a vested interest in asynchronous distance learning critique the synchronous medium.

So, here’s the question for you. Is synchronous distance learning like videoconferencing worth the trouble? Is it worth staying up in the evening to connect to places half way around the world?

I can think of a few benefits to real-time – besides the learning that goes on – think of these:

  • motivation
  • enthusiasm
  • engagement levels (think of the posture when kids watch a video vs. participate in an interactive VC)
  • accents & dress differences (can’t see that in a discussion board)
  • body language & face time
  • the feeling of being together and connecting (they are the same as us!)

When I read Roxanne’s list of Read Around the Planet ideas I was encouraged. I’m deep in the challenges of dealing with the RAP leftovers. The ideas reminded me of the kids’ enthusiasm in these events. When you’re tired and stressed with too many videoconferences to suppport, think of the kids. When you get all your matches next week and have a ton of RAP test calls to do, think of the kids. When you’re frustrated with the pain of scheduling, think of the kids. Imagine the faces of the kids in the last VC you did.

What do YOU think? Please comment. Is synchronous distance learning worth the trouble? Why?

Overcoming Teacher Tech Phobia

Here’s a great article from Techlearning that I stumbled across recently: Three Steps to Eliminating Teacher Tech Phobia. While the article is focused generally on technology and mostly on Internet resources, the principles and concepts can be applied to videoconferencing as well.

First, the article makes some great points about the busyness of teachers and their need to see a direct curriculum application to any technology we’re encouraging them to use. We must always remember that curriculum drives teachers’ perception of resources. They won’t use VC just for the fun of it! And they shouldn’t either!

There are three tips given which we can apply to helping teachers use videoconferencing appropriately in their curriculum:

  • Database. The database idea is an interesting one, and you should read the whole description in the article. Now for videoconferencing there are several tools for finding VCs that apply to your curriculum, but they still aren’t “next to the teacher” as described in the article. So we still need media specialists and building coordinators to see what’s available and suggest options to teachers. This filtering of resources and opportunities is a nice fit for a media specialist’s work. Some of my coordinators forward emails to specific teachers; others print descriptions of programs and put it in the teacher’s inbox.
  • Survey. This is an interesting idea too. Ask the teachers what media they need. Or in VC’s case, ask them what curriculum topics they are focusing on. This information helps you make connections between the teachers’ curriculum topics and the opportunities available.
  • Weekly Email. Well, weekly might be a bit too often for VC. But emails of opportunities are a great way for teachers to find out about the options. There are still many teachers in my county who only know about the VC opportunities that I email out. They don’t have time or the energy to check out my website and do their own searches.

What other tips can you think of after reading the article?