Videoconference coordinators come in all forms in our schools. We have teaching assistants, librarians, campus technologists, technology directors, classroom teachers, and administrators. As we have mentioned earlier, the one commonality is that the majority of them have full time responsibilities in another capacity.
Bottom line: Everyone is busy.
How can you help a teacher during the time of the connection?
Best way to help: Stay in the room with a newbie to videoconferencing so that you can talk them through the first connection. You should know if you have to dial a number or if the other site is going to dial to you. Be sure to talk your teacher through his or her first couple of connections to orient them to both the technology and the ettiquette.
“Here is how we dial the connection. Here is how to mute the microphone. Move the paper away from the microphone. Sometimes the picture does freeze a bit–that is okay. Do you have questions prepared for the connection? “
If you cannot be there, try to at least get the unit connected and microphone muted.
When you have to leave, provide the teacher a lifeline and a plan.
1. Make a sheet with the phone number of whoever they are connecting with (content provider, other school, bridging service, etc). Put the phone numbers in order of which to call first. If you are connecting through a bridge, you will start with the bridge that you connect to and then they can assist at that point.
2. Remind teachers to have something for the students to work on in case there is some wait time due to technical difficulties. Some of our classes review content for presentations. If it is the other site having issues, you can also check presets on your camera. Math fact quizzes, spelling words, 20 questions, or other content related sponge activities also work well.
3. If there is not a phone in the room (or a teacher cell phone), send a student to the office (or nearest phone that you can dial out on) with a hall pass with the phone number to dial and a description of what the problem is.
One Final Note:
If you know that the people you have been working with on this project or connection use Skype (or another IM program) and you have already used this method to communicate with them. Use it now. Skype is also great for supporting international connections.
- Create a “lifeline template” to use for your connections–include phone numbers, technical information, time and date of connection.
- Super Duper Challenge–Add a brain quest game, story book, etc on your videoconference cart in case the teacher forgets to provide a back up plan.