CILC Symposium Panel: Practical Applications

The CILC Symposium 2007 is comprised of several panel sessions followed by breakout follow-up sessions. This session is on Practical Applications. “Best practices in the use of videoconferencing and collaborative technologies will be shared from the perspective of classroom instructors, technology directors, IVC managers and coordinators, content providers.”

The panel, moderated by Elaine Shuck, Polycom, includes Judith Plant, White Plains City School District at Eastview Middle School (Global Run); Jason Dennison, Director of Instructional Technology at Cincinnati Museum Center; Tommy Bearden, Distance Learning Consultant at Region 14 Education Service Center; Jeff McMahon, Academic Technology Officer for the Indianapolis Public School System; and Max Kolstad, Network Services Lead for the State of Arkansas Department of Information Systems.

Driving question: Many educators are pressured to meet state testing goals. In what ways are you using this technology to enhance curriculum, meet goals, bring opportunities to students?

Jeff McMahon shared how their district is using laptop programs and other initiatives to teach 21st century learning skills. An audience member from British Columbia shared how videoconferencing is used to share high end courses with rural schools.

Max Kolstad shared how the Arkansas DIS meet the needs of the Department of Ed. Max talked about how e-rate doesn’t come back in the same fiscal year. The vendors have to be paid “whenever.” The state legislature funded technology and also PEOPLE! They have an “ebay” for courseware within the state. In response, Carol Willis, TX, shared best practices within TX. They don’t have state funding like AR, but have a collaboration of people at education service centers.

Judith Plant shared how she decides whether to use a technology in the classroom or not. The first is it must meet her curriculum goals. Those goals in her Spanish class are to work in the language (Spanish), or to work with classes in the culture. If she’s connecting with a content provider, she’s looking for someone willing to have a dialogue with her; to see it as a team-teaching situation. It has to be a topic of high-interest and something that fits into what we’re doing. “I, as the teacher, need to do some preparation before the videoconference. The students need to know the vocabulary and concepts before walking into the experience. With classroom connections, these are the best experiences for my students. It serves as motivation for many many months. It starts all kinds of discussion – why did they use this word instead of that word? I couldn’t understand his accent. Usually the conversation is half in English and half in Spanish. They have to create content, prepare a visual, rehearse, and plan for the collaboration. I try to create an authentic situation for using the language. We do many gimmicks to help students be in the situation, like a cafe in the classroom. The videoconference is an actual authentic experience. ” She also integrates service learning into the videoconferences.

Another teacher from OH in the audience shared. She’s from a school with a high rate of poverty. She has a VTel in her classroom and hasn’t had it for a year yet. She’s connected with two classrooms in New Hampshire. “No Child Left Behind seems to be creating a common curriculum across the country. In one classroom, we share reading activities. We fax materials back and forth and collaborate on what we want to accomplish. We have a massive literature circle between the two classes. I have another school in the northern part of New Hampshire, and we’re planning a similar activity for writing. In social studies, the students have learned about eastern woodland Native Americans with a museum in Columbus. ”

Next Jason Dennison shared the journey from being a classroom teacher to being a content provider. Alignment with content standards is critical. Content providers wonder, which content providers? The overwhelming response is with “state standards”. This is a very difficult task. The content providers prefer to work with the teacher working up to the videoconference to actually meet their curriculum goals. Jason shared a story of doing a videoconference where the teacher walked out of the classroom during the videoconference. When he asked for the teacher to call on the students, the students said, the teacher isn’t here! “How much better could have it been, if the teacher had been in the classroom.” “You know your students much better than I do from 600 miles away.” As a content provider, the challenge is finding the partnership with the teacher.

Dale Hilton, Cleveland Museum of Art, agreed that standards are critical. The program needs to have a good description so that teachers know what is involved. “I invite teachers to call me on the phone to discuss the program.” She shared one scenario where the students were so prepared that she set the script aside and did Q&A with the students. She ended up emailing some of the answers afterwards because they asked such in depth questions. “Sometimes a school will call you up and use a lesson in a way you never expected.” They have one lesson that focuses on various architecture houses of worship. A business class signed up, and Dale asked them why they signed up. They said they wanted be able to understand their community to better serve the community. She also shared a not-so-successful experience where she followed up afterwards to find out what could be improved. Elaine reminded us all that the content providers have other resources besides what they have on their website.

Tommy Bearden talked about why some campuses are successful and others are less so. Tommy services 42 predominantly rural schools. He said to all the administrators and techs in the audience – all of our schools should have EASY access. His elementaries say, what can we do for FREE? “This is where we coordinate projects for our schools.” For example, Snake, Rattle and Stand Still. Think about the time 20 years ago when we put computers in the classroom. We put a big sign on it – for teacher use only. We told the kids, don’t touch that, you might explode. Then something happened. Then snuck around our back and got on the computer. And now we say, how did you do that? Roll forward 20 years. Tell me we’re not doing the same thing. We’re telling those kids the same thing. Don’t touch that, you might explore. So in Region 14, we’re trying to give them the remote; and have them teach other kids. Empower your kids to teach others. Public Service Announcement: He’s looking for partners for 42 campuses creating projects. Don’t make the same mistakes. Let your kids run with this stuff! To the school administrators: EASY ACCESS. One per CAMPUS. If we don’t put this technology in front of kids, we’re making a horrible educational sin.”

The KC3 project fits into this. Check it out.

Collaborations Around the Planet is a way to find partners for collaborative projects. Read Around the Planet is another great way to get new partners for projects too.

Someone asked about what other interactions there can be other than Q&A. WOW! What examples can you think of for interaction other than Q&A? MysteryQuest, game shows, Monster Match, see the collaborative projects template, Polycom Special Events, TWICE ASK programs, etc. What else can you think of? Comment if you want to add to this discussion.

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