Since reading the last dissertation, and since conversations with colleagues at the CILC Symposium, I’ve been thinking about the purpose of videoconferencing and the location of equipment. How does this sound for a few straightforward guidelines:
- If you want to do curriculum videoconferencing, start in the elementary schools.
- If you want to do shared classes, start at the high school.
- If you want to do meetings, put it in a board/meeting room, and forget about ever using it with kids.
In our county we have used videoconferencing predominantly for curriculum videoconferencing. We do state wide meetings often, we’re starting to do more PD for VC over VC, and 3-5 times a year we might offer some PD that isn’t VC-related. Early on we had a couple shared classes, but the districts involved ended up hiring teachers for those subject areas. Our county has a really strong Career Technical Education program where students spend half their day in usually an onsite CTE program. These programs are shared among the districts in the county, and usually the students are driving to their program. Because this model is so successful, there is little need for shared classes. So we sold our districts on curriculum videoconferencing and we support it that way too, with support, training, funding, and programming directed to that end.
In other service areas, such as ISD B & C in the study I just read, shared classes are the focus of videoconferencing and are highly successful with all of the districts participating. The purpose in many ways defines the usage, installation, and implementation of the equipment.
I don’t know very many places that install videoconferencing in administration buildings and/or board rooms. I have heard several rumblings from Ontario that many school boards are using VC predominantly for meetings. It’s intriguing to me. How is it that these schools haven’t heard of or experienced curriculum videoconferencing? How is it that they aren’t seeing the vision? Do vendors explain other possibilities of VC when they sell schools equipment? Or do they just tell what they know only? How did these schools find out about VC to only envision it for meetings? Maybe local businesses? How can we spread the word of curriculum videoconferencing in a way that spreads the vision to schools who have VC but don’t realize the amazing engaging experiences they could offer to their students? We need more articles published in technology magazines! I guess our work is cut out for us!
What do you think? Do you agree with these guidelines? Can you think of other purposes?