Last week I conducted the first two days of training for my new building distance learning contacts as part of our USDA RUS DLT grant.
I scheduled four days of all day trainings over the fall, and each of the 35 buildings with new Polycoms has to send at least one person to the training. Many of my buildings are sending two people. Since many of the buildings are small and rural (the population targeted by the USDA RUS grant), we have a wide variety of positions that were assigned support of the new system. In some buildings there is a media specialist or library aide, in others, a secretary who has a knack for technology, in others, one or two teachers are the new distance learning contacts.
The agenda for the day was:
- Introduction to RUS grant: Background & Rationale.
- What is videoconferencing?
- VC Possibilities: Field Trips (We explored the resources we have online for choose VC programs.)
- VC Possibilities: Projects (Exchange and multipoint projects, “official projects“, and the project planning booklet.)
- Listservs (Everyone signed up for at least the Collaboration Collage and the project announcements from CILC.)
- VC Possibilities: ASK Program (Also watched the ASK video.)
- Supporting Your Teachers (Went over our local manual plus these tips for supporting teachers)
- VC Technology Overview
- Polycom Practice
- Scheduling Procedures
- Review RUS Grant Requirements
- What’s Next: Review & Reflect
My favorite part was the Polycom practice. I gave them an overview and an “assignment” sheet with different kinds of calls to make (IP, ISDN, multipoint) and things to practice (muting, moving the camera, setting presets, etc.). Then I divided them into groups and sent them off to our VC rooms around the ISD to practice. And I left them alone! But I could hear lots of giggling and laughing going on as they played with the remote. In about 30 minutes they came back to the main room excited and ready to go. They said the remote was easy to use and they felt very comfortable with it.
This was the first time I’d used this strategy and I was very pleased with the results. One of the participants said in the evaluation,
This was a great conference!!!! I’ve learned so much and I can’t wait to “play” with the equipment. I’m so looking forward to the first videoconference. I know it’ll be worth it.
So this is another reason demand is high! Many new building contacts who were concerned about their new role of supporting VC caught the big picture of possibilities, are comfortable with the tech, know they can call me if they are stuck, and are ready with tools & resources to support VC in their building. Yeah!