Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.
Abbott, L., Austin, R., Mulkeen, A., & Metcalfe, N. (2004). The global classroom: Advancing cultural awareness in special schools through collaborative work using ICT. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 19(2), 225-240. doi:10.1080/08856250410001678504
Summary: This article reported on a qualitative study which was comprised of 10 teacher interviews. The participants had been part of the Dissolving Boundaries Programme, which pairs schools in the North and South of Ireland to design and implement a year long collaborative project. Examples of the projects are here. Many of the participating schools are special needs schools serving a wide variety of students. Two technology tools were used – an asynchronous space with threaded discussion, and videoconferencing. The teachers preferred videoconferencing because many of the students did not have the skill to type or remember how to write to their partner. Talking was much easier.
The keys to success in this project were the strong support at the school level, good relationships with their partner school, planning a timetable carefully to meet the needs of both schools, convenient access to equipment, and both partners being comfortable with the technology. The project is highly supported by the department of education in both countries as well.
Comments: This is a great model of long term collaboration over videoconferencing. View the picture gallery online here. It’s interesting that for the special needs students, the real time videoconferencing was much easier. If you haven’t looked into this project, it’s worth your time!