Tag Archives: jazzivc

Jazzing Up Your Curriculum: Applying Principles of Jazz to Collaboration

Today I’m co-presenting at the 10th Anniversary COIL Conference with Ken Conn, Amy Spath, and Roxanne Glaser.

Jazz workshopSession Description: Collaboration requires a unique set of skills, skills that are similar to those used in jazz music. Autonomy, passion, risk, innovation, and listening are essential to a successful collaborative experience. Learn how these five principles of jazz are applied in a unique summer course for K12 teachers called 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing. The workshop is collaboratively led and features a variety of interactive activities across the participating sites

Google Slidedeck

Note: 2008-2010 the Jazz workshop had international participation from Wales, UK and British Columbia, Canada.

The “Jazz workshop” Resources

We challenge you to ensure your collaborations are jazz music, not a one-man band or a symphony led by a star conductor!

Some Jazz Workshop Tidbits

The NY half of Small Group #6 in presents their project. I love these visuals!

Today is the facilitator debrief session for the 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing workshop. We review the summer sessions and decide on changes for next year.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a couple things:

  1. Learning and Leading with Technology just published an article about the Jazz Workshop. Check it out!
  2. I updated the History of Jazz post with this year’s participation. It’s interesting to see the changes over time!

Remember, if you’re interested in participating, review the documents on the right side of the Jazz website. Dates and application for next year should be up in a few weeks.

Comparing Skype and VC Carts in the Jazz Workshop

This week in the Jazz Workshop, my participants and I keep coming back to comparing Skype and videoconferencing carts (or standards based videoconferencing – i.e. H323). We’ve been discussing it all week. (For reference, here’s a previous comparison.)

Today, we did a 5 minute call with a group of teachers in OH who learning about Skype in an afternoon workshop.

Computer Sharing

  • Is pretty easy on Skype, but you can’t show the desktop and the video at the same time.
  • On H323 VC carts, you can share the computer and in some cases, the computer and the video/presenter at the same time.

Other Video Sources

  • On the H323 videoconferencing system, we could easily share the document camera by pressing a number to jump to a preset.
  • On Skype, we are not sure. In theory a USB document camera could be shared with the other site. But do you have to disconnect or end the video part of the call to change video settings? It seems likely.


  • The mic on our Polycom VSX 7000 is obviously designed for a whole classroom and works great.
  • I was very surprised that the audio we were sending to the group in OH seemed to work fine from across the room. That was using the built in mic on my Mac. I also had my Mac hooked up to the SmartCart with speakers so they could hear. And that did not cause an echo for the remote site as I thought it would. I was pleasantly surprised!
  • The group in Ohio had a hand held mic that sounded GREAT. But when they switched to their logitech mic it was kind of tinny and not as clear. I don’t know which logitech webcam they were using or how they connected the hand held mic. I would like to learn that!

Camera Presets

  • On both sides we had the camera set to show the whole room.
  • Of course with Skype/webcams, we don’t have a way to do presets or easily switch to a document camera.
  • With the H323 system, it’s easy to set presets to just hit a number to jump/zoom to a specific area of the room. (Zoom, pan, tilt, preset cameras!)


  • The participants shared some of their experiences with Skype and how sometimes it’s great and other times not so much. And sometimes it won’t connect at all.


We discussed how Skype is good for short learning experiences that aren’t critical/frustrating if it can’t connect right then.

Standards based (h323) videoconferencing carts are better when

  • you’ve paid for the program
  • need it at a specific time
  • have a guest speaker only at a specific time,
  • or have a more in depth interaction.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have more to add to the list? Please comment!

There's No Excuse

Geometric Transformations program from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

Here’s a great comment from the Jazz reflections today:

What excites me about videoconferencing with staff is the range of possibilities.  There really isn’t an excuse for any teacher to not use videoconferencing to enhance curriculum. What excites me about videoconferencing with students is empowering them to collaborate with students from other states.  Also, using videoconferencing would urge students to come to class…never know when an exciting videoconference could take place :)!

The Effectiveness of the “Jazz” Workshop

It’s the first day of another session of 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing. I have 8 participants for this session: two high school teachers and six 1st and 2nd grade teachers.

Today I am just amazed at the eagerness and sharpness of my group! They are so excited!! In one day they have:

  • Experienced a simulation of Community Exchange, Animal Exchange, Read Around the Planet, and Monster Exchange
  • Experienced mini-lessons from The Mariners’ Museum and NASA
  • Met in small groups to get to know their group members from other states.

Attitude Changes
Due to these experiences, already attitudes have changed. Note these comments from their reflections:

  • I thought video conferencing was almost impossible to plan for in my class, but I know it is much easier than I thought. I can’t wait to see what trips I can plan for my class!
  • At first it was mind boggling to think about how we were going to put together a presentation in 30 minutes; however, once the creative juices started to flow, it became a race to see which idea could we make the most creative.
  • Even though I have already used some videoconferencing, already today I have seen other ways to incorporate more ideas into my current curriculum. I really like the sheet provided for recording the conferences that I might be interested in using each month. … When you are involved as the teacher, you’re so worried about your class and how they are behaving that it’s sometimes hard to notice the other small details that I had more time to pay attention to today.
  • The amount of things to do in VC is amazing. There is more to it than I actually thought would be. It is kind of intimidating at first. But wow, what a great thing to learn and use.

“We Need Equipment in our School!”
And, the piece I’m most excited about is that new equipment might come out of this workshop! I have a school that has dabbled in videoconferencing and has good sources of funding, but hasn’t been eligible for any of the grants we’ve written. They haven’t seen what they are missing to be motivated enough to pursue videoconferencing. But, after the exchange simulations, the three teachers from that school were ready to write a proposal for funding for a videoconferencing cart! Yay! I’ll be working with them further to get their system purchased and installed. I’m so glad!!


And it’s only the first day of Jazz! What a productive day we had!!

Start spreading the news….

One more little tidbit from Jazz last week… these are the words to the song that the participants in Torfaen, Wales sang to us as they said goodbye last Friday:

Torfaen BIG BANG song!

Start spreading the news.
We’re leaving today
We’ve had a real good start at it
in Jazz VC.
We’ve learned how to Skype
and host a roll call
we’ve solved some hard Math problems
we’ve enjoyed it all!

And if we can VC here
we’ll VC anywhere
So bye for now
from Jazz in Wales!

Can you tell they (and we) had a great time learning last week??!

Looking back to Jazz; Looking forward to ISTE

June has been crazy for me – hence the quietness on this blog! I sure have a list of things to post though. Maybe in July you’ll get to hear about them!

June 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing.

Shane Howard, of Whirlidurb, gives VC etiquette tips in a very entertaining format!

The June session of Jazz was again an amazingly stellar experience! Take a few moments to browse some of the resources used and generated during the workshop:

TWICE Retreat
The rest of this week I’m off to the TWICE retreat – watch for an announcement of Read Around the Planet dates for next year. (The calendar is a little weird. Not sure how it’s going to shake out yet!)

ISTE SIG IVC Playground

Next week I’ll be at ISTE – hanging out in the showcases on Monday (look for the brunette pirate); presenting a cool new CAPspace feature in the Polycom booth on Tuesday, and helping with the SIG IVC Pirate playground on Wednesday. If you’re going to be at ISTE, don’t miss the playground! We’re giving away $4000 worth of free programs from content providers, plus other cool pirate treasure.

Also, be sure to review this list of ISTE videoconferencing happenings.

I’ll be blogging the conference of course, so prepare to be inundated with what I’m learning. Particularly I’m hoping to write about what I learn about the 4 desktop VC tools featured at the playground.

Finally, Google Ads.

Lastly, it has come to my attention that wordpress is putting GoogleAds on my blog. It costs $30 a year to get rid of them. I never see them because I’m logged in! Do you see them? Are they annoying? Do they come in your RSS reader / email? I am just wondering what you, my readers, think of them and if I should do something different. Thanks for your feedback!

Hope your summer is going well and stay tuned for news from ISTE!!

Guess My Pet with Wales, UK

Wales PartnersThis morning Bridgman Elementary is connecting to Wales in the UK for a project that was written in the Jazz workshop this summer: Guess My Pet. Before the videoconference started, I noticed the teachers using best practice to set presets on their visuals (which were neatly mounted to hold them still). Nice to see Jazz lessons being put into practice.

Each class had little introductions ready to share to get to know each other and where they are. Then the classes began sharing the clues about their pets. Everyone took notes on the clues; then the classes muted for a while to guess. here are some examples of the clues:

  • It’s got long or short hair.
  • It makes a squeaking noise.
  • It lives in a cage.
  • It runs on a wheel.

Pet DrawingAfter guessing, the classes shared pictures and facts about their pets. The classes also shared a graph of what types of pets they have represented in their class. Pet Graph

We had a few technical glitches along the way, but overall the students enjoyed the process, practiced their reading, listening, and presenting skills, and got to know students in another country! The classes plan to continue the partnership with pen pal letters between students.

Transactional Distance in Videoconferencing

This post is part of a series examining articles on the communication aspects of videoconferencing.

Reference Chen, Y. J. (1997). The implications of Moore’s theory of transactional distance in a videoconferencing learning environment. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 9802605)


This study compared Moore’s (1972) theory of transactional distance to the use of videoconferencing for teaching at a distance. The theory is that transactional distance (the distance of understanding and perceptions) has to be overcome by the teachers & learners for effective learning to occur. Moore suggested that lower structure and higher dialogue would yield less transactional distance.

Chen studied 121 participants in twelve videoconferencing classes in several subject areas. Results included that dialogue includes in class verbal communication, face to face interaction outside the class, and communication via email. The structure of the course included the design or organization of the class and also the delivery and implementation. Chen found that Moore’s theory isn’t specific enough in these areas of dialogue and structure.

The students perceived greater learning from greater frequency of in-class discussion. The greater the reported transactional distance between teacher and learners, the less the perceived learning.

Those were the only two factors that made a difference in perceived learning.

The study also found that out of class electronic communication was not supported as an effective practice; however, by the sounds of it, the use wasn’t required and therefore was low. If deliberate, interactive, engaging discussions were set up, would this result be different?

Suggested Strategies for Teaching Via VC

  • Additional training for teachers and students before courses occur
  • Planned class section where all sites meet in person at the beginning of the semester
  • Setting up a listserv for online communication
  • Creating group dynamics and a collaborative learning environment
  • Building consensus between/among sites through interaction among peers


  • It’s interesting how important the in-class discussion was in this study. How do YOU create discussion across sites? Good models are GNG‘s Pulse programs; some of the Jazz interactions; what else?
  • Don’t you think that many other Web 2.0 tools if chosen carefully and used deliberately could be more effective than a listserv? Of course this was published in 1997 which is seriously old in Internet time.
  • What other things do you see as important to a videoconferencing class?

Jazz is a network of dense clusters

Have you read Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody? Or at least watched his 20-min presentations on TED Talks? here and here.

A Network of Dense Clusters web graphic by Dave Pollard
A Network of Dense Clusters web graphic by Dave Pollard

He suggests that a strong network is a network of dense clusters. This is more efficient than a hierarchy, where everyone is critical to the organization. It’s also more efficient than everyone being connected to everyone, which soon becomes unmanageable.

Those of you participating (or hoping to) in the Jazz workshop, does this graphic ring a bell? Lead facilitators and “Jazz veterans” are the connectors between the groups. Newbies start just connected to their small group.

I think that’s why Jazz seems to be successfully growing without driving any of us crazy (yet). What do you think?

Are you in any other groups that have this type of network of dense clusters? Who is in YOUR cluster? Are you in more than one cluster? Are you passing information between them?