Changing My Mind on View Only Sessions

In the first few years of our distance learning program, I thought that view only sessions were a waste of time and energy. In those days, classes had to travel to the high school to get access to videoconferencing. VC is an interactive medium, so I didn’t want anyone to waste their time, energy and funding just to do a view only session. I’ve felt strongly for the past several years that VC isn’t worth doing if you can’t interact with the people on the other side.

However, I’m beginning to change my mind. Now most of our teachers have access to VC in their building. They don’t have to travel.

In addition, they are still very nervous about the possibility of videoconferencing. They want to know what to expect. They want to see how it works. They don’t want to commit to involving their students until they know it’s worth their time and meets the goals of the curriculum.

Enter view only sessions.

View only sessions allow teachers to experience the possibilities with students in a low-key environment. Everyone can watch how the event occurs. They don’t have to say anything or be on camera, but they can see what happens in a typical videoconference. While watching how others behave in a videoconference, they can learn how to teach their own students how to behave in a videoconference.

A view only session is a stepping stone to a full videoconference.

Do you agree?

0 replies on “Changing My Mind on View Only Sessions”

  1. I completely agree! Another aspect is that some content is so compelling that the students are spell-bound by the video conference and then classroom teachers can facilitate the conversation in the classroom.

    Last spring (2006) we had the opportunity to view an amazing presentation of Eva Hance and Mark Geeslin. She was an 11-year old Holocaust survivor and Mark was one of the liberators. The only interaction was the audience at Texas Tech. We had thousands of students viewing this and it was an AMAZING experience…with no interaction.

    View a photo of Eva and Mark on Wes Fryer’s Flickr.

    My opinion on view only video conferences is now…it depends! I definitely think there is a place for view only experiences.

  2. From my personal experience, I have watched students, especially lower elementary, be very frustrated when they couldn’t ask questions or be seen like the others students participating in the conference–even to the point of being so distracted they missed the content.

    Many of these situations led to the teacher being sure that his/her class would be interactive from that point forward. So, maybe from that perspective it promotes videoconferencing.

    However, I agree that for some big events being view only is better than being left out completely and that the experience can be optimal when the teacher takes the initiative to create a wonderful learning experience.


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