Today I got an email from a teacher in local school that doesn’t have VC (H323) equipment in his school. The teacher explained why he plans to use Skype instead:
I received my classroom upgrade and I have a [laptop] and [interactive whiteboard] which does allow me to utilize Skype for videoconferencing. I will likely go that route this year because there are some opportunities from sites like Skype in Schools and Skype An Author. [Tech name deleted] is so swamped in our district just trying to do tech support, it makes it hard for teachers to set up special projects that require extra hook-ups and equipment.
Now, how can I pull this teacher into doing all the programs we offer? I thought of Polycom PVX, but he has a Mac. I’ve played with XMeeting for the Mac, but I think it might be too annoying and unreliable. If I could get low cost software on that computer that is connected to the [interactive whiteboard], we could be up & running for all the other content available via H323 as well as the Skype content.
Intriguingly, a superintendent asked me for this a year ago – see my VC in every classroom post.
Videoconferencing as a way to enrich the curriculum will never be mainstream until teachers can innovate and implement easily on their own like they do with Web 2.0 tools. It has to be super easy and not require much, if any, tech support. Teachers ask, “Does it have to be formal and complicated?” It’s a good question and we have to keep working towards making it way easier.
We need something very low cost that has no peripherals and extras, no complicated and unreliable H.239, etc. and can be installed on the computer that is hooked to the interactive whiteboard. Who will make it????
What do you think? Am I off base here? Please comment!