This morning I had a conversation with several colleagues in Texas about the 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing workshop we are planning for this summer. Besides planning the workshop, we had a great conversation about how we support our local buildings and how we promote and encourage the use of videoconferencing. One concern that came up was the need for content. "We have lots of equipment, but we need more content for our schools." The context of this conversation was the discussion of the training materials and activities. This workshop focuses heavily on collaborations between schools.
I am increasingly convinced that educational service agencies should not only be providing bridging, purchasing, training, and technical support for their schools doing distance learning; they also must be offering content! It takes time to move from a consumer of content to a producer of content, but that should be the ultimate goal for all educational service agencies who seriously want to make distance learning successful in their service area. Schools need lots of free simple first experiences with videoconferencing to get them started.
Some great examples of service agencies or district distance learning coordinators offering content are Macomb ISD's ASK, LAPS and RegionQuest programs; Joan Roehre's KUSD, Wisconsin History Mystery; Kathy Mohr's NOECA, OH Chapters, Classmaters, and other projects; and Linda McDonald's creative projects in Katy, TX (see Documents on her page).
Andrea Israeli, NY, blogged about the challenges of producing content last week. It's definintely a challenging task, but oh so worth it! It gives your teachers high quality free content! You may also want to browse my blog entries about our ASK programs (which we learned how to do from Macomb ISD) and our MysteryQuest programs.
Several of the people in our conference call today had taken my Planning Interactive Curriculum Connections online class and that was how they began to offer content to their schools. Another session of this class starts on April 17 if you want to join us! I'm also rewriting my Kid2Kid Videconference Connections class this summer for next year. It will be targeted not only to teachers, but also to educational service agencies who want to learn how to run ASK, MysteryQuest, and new projects for their local districts. So keep that in mind if you're interested. I'll advertise it here as well as on the VC listservs in the fall.
Bottom line, if you have done videoconferencing for a year or two, it's time to generate and provide content. Create your own projects based on ideas from others and your curriculum of course! Then fill up those sessions with local classes and classes from the listservs. It's always a wonderful experience for students to interact with classes from far away! You CAN do it! Just jump in and start with something simple!