Day 16: Quality Connections

20 Days to Being a Better VC CoordinatorGuest blogged by Roxanne Glaser

Schools’ resources are valuable and must be spent wisely. Resources are both staff time and money. Here are some tips about evaluating the quality of your connections so that you can spend your time and money wisely.

Top 3 Quality Indicators for Curriculum Videoconferencing Connections

1. Are you teachers and students actively engaged during the connection? Some connections are compelling as VIEW ONLY, but the majority of the connections that I have participated in where students learned the most were connections where they were participating in a challenge, a quest, a lesson, or asking questions.

2. Are teachers and students provided with quality program materials and resources prior to the connection?
COSI Columbus provide amazing kits with their connections. The kit for the knee surgery comes complete with 30 student viewing guides, hammers, glitter bug lotion and much more! Greenbush sends live Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for their program. Center for Puppetry Arts provides patterns and instructions for all the preparations needed for their programs.

CAUTION: Materials that have to be shipped back to the provider at the expense of the school can be a pain for coordinators to manage. Be sure to ask about materials or kits to make sure you can keep them or if they need to be sent back.

3. Is the challenge and instructional level appropriate for the students? I am always skeptical when I see a program listed as available for K-12. SeaTrek has a chart showing programs that will work for a certain grade level. NASA Digital Learning Network lists programs for K-12, but in the lesson materials they are divided as K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. That tells me that they have adapted the materials and the language so that it is appropriate to the different learning levels.

TWICE has a great document for a more comprehensive look at quality indicators of a videoconference field trip or program.

Many content providers have program evaluations to be completed by the classroom teacher after the program. Make sure that your teachers take time to complete these. Content providers use that data to improve programs and in some cases secure grant funding to provide free programming to schools.

Classroom Evaluation of Learning Processes

Teachers can use evaluation strategies with their students to ensure learning is occuring and to improve classroom management for the next connection. As a Tribes trainer, I believe in the group dynamics of learning and the power of reflection in the learning process.

What did you learn about the content?
(including preparation and presentation skills) This rubric was created by Tracy Poelzer from British Columbia and can be used with MysteryQuest connections.
link to MysteryQuest rubric by Tracy

What did you learn about the technology?
How did connecting with other classes or experts enhance your learning? Would this have been better done with the class next door or did using the technology impact how you learned?

What did you do that contributed to your learning?
Be specific here. Focus on the behaviors that you want to nuture during the next connection. These can be explicitly taught by using the “Looks Like, Feels Like, Sounds Like” strategy. Make sure students know what these abstract behaviors will be during the connections.

  • Did you listen to others in your group or the presenter?
  • Did you participate fully?
  • Did you value other people’s ideas?
  • Did you work well together with others?

See page 38 in the Planning Kid2Kid Videoconference Projects booklet for more evaluation ideas.

Comment Comments

  1. Which content providers have you found that have excellent preparation materials?
  2. Who are your favorite content providers providing quality programming for PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, or 9-12?

0 replies on “Day 16: Quality Connections”

  1. Roxanne:

    I’m sitting in a break-out session at the Oklahoma Technology Association in OKC led by Will Richardson. He his sharing how to use Google Reader to find blogs of interest. I typed in KC3 . . . and boom, I found this blog you posted. My students will be presenting their VFT project as part of the KC3 2009 contest to students in Irasburg, VT. Your points above are very valuable, and I plan on sharing these at a session I am leading tomorrow . . .

    Session Description
    On February 13, 2009, two teams of broadcast journalism students from Howe Public Schools will present their student-created virtual field trips (VFT) to 4th and 6th graders in Irasburg, VT. The students created the VFT’s as part of the 2009 Kids Creating Community Content Contest contest sponsored by Tandberg and the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration. The High School and Middle School teams will present live on location from the Fort Smith National Historic Site in Ft. Smith, AR using the Tandberg Mobile Commander. Join Tammy Parks as she describes this authentic, engaging and dynamic videoconferencing program created and delivered by her students from the Courthouse of the notorious “Hanging Judge” of the Wild West.

    Thanks Roxanne for the great post!

  2. I have seen a few conferences that I really like. One of them happened this year between two Kindergarten classes durring Read Around the World. The other I was part of some years back and involved COSI and was a hands on science activity. COSI at the time sent out a pre-packet of materials to discuss with your students prior to the video conference.

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