Scheduling Videoconferences

This week I offered two afternoon workshops for my local coordinators: Scheduling Videoconferences. This is the first in a new series called Supporting Videoconferences that I’m offering to my schools. It’s part of the RUS Grant training, and part of my new strategy to help my buildings become more independent so that we can sustain the current growth.

We reviewed scheduling through the ISD and how to track progress of programs we’re scheduling.

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Scheduling with Content Providers
Then we talked about tips for scheduling with the various content providers. Here are some of the tips:

  • Always check your district VC calendar to make sure you don’t schedule on top of another one. We use Filemaker Pro for our scheduling & calendars.
  • Check all your testing, event, and PD calendars.
  • Have everything ready before you register online. (Use the “Register Now” link on the record after you’ve searched our database for the program. )
  • If you are registering via email, send all the information in one email: teacher name, email, phone, school name, address, tech name, email, phone, IP address, billing information, and your range of availability.
  • Some content providers have online calendars that makes it really easy to schedule (NASA & COSI Columbus for example).
  • Some, like the Cleveland Zoo, have a register link for each program, and you can see right away if the program is full or not.
  • Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out from the provider’s online or paper form how to make sure all the right people get the correct information. We’ve had a few times where we’re scheduling for the school & we connect & pay the bills. But the confirmation goes to the teacher and not to us. That’s always frustrating.
  • Most of the Indiana providers are in a habit of adding an extra 15 min. at the beginning for “network time” or connecting time. My schools are already in a habit of having kids ready 10 min. before and connecting 15 min. before the program start time. Sometimes we get confused on when the program actually starts and kids sit there for 30 minutes! Not good. So that’s another important detail to pay attention to.

Scheduling with Other Schools
Finally, we reviewed the various ways to find a partner school – via our local directory and the various listservs. We talked about ways to advertise the project so as to ensure success and less negotiation to arrange the videoconference.

Scheduling Test Calls
We also discussed tips for keeping sanity while doing test calls. Brandon Waggoner, district tech coordinator for Berrien Springs Public Schools, made this great suggestion to his building coordinators: Set aside one or two time slots a week for test calls, and if at all possible, schedule your test calls during that time. If you ask first, the other school or content provider usually can do the test call when you ask for it.

So, are you scheduling programs for your school? Or, educational service agency coordinators, are you letting your schools do their own scheduling yet? What tips do you have for scheduling? How are you training others to do scheduling?

0 replies on “Scheduling Videoconferences”

  1. Rebecca says:

    I’m a v/c coordinator for several districts in the St. Louis area. At most of my schools, I have a point person there- someone (librarian, tech para, etc.) who talks directly with all teachers interested in v/c. That helps with teachers not requesting programs at the same time at the same school, but for different classes. For upon request programs, I ask that the schools give me several times and dates that would work for them, in the event the time they are free the content provider is not. For middle and high schools, I remind them that I’m a ‘civilian’ and third hour, fifth hour, etc. is not going to work as a time they are available- who knows what times they really want. One other tip I have is take down the phone number for the room the class will be in the day of the v/c, or a cell #. A teacher’s school phone extension may be the way to his/her’s voicemail, but not a person if there is a “v/c emergency.” The more specific you get be with your request, the better.

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