Here’s a great article from Techlearning that I stumbled across recently: Three Steps to Eliminating Teacher Tech Phobia. While the article is focused generally on technology and mostly on Internet resources, the principles and concepts can be applied to videoconferencing as well.
First, the article makes some great points about the busyness of teachers and their need to see a direct curriculum application to any technology we’re encouraging them to use. We must always remember that curriculum drives teachers’ perception of resources. They won’t use VC just for the fun of it! And they shouldn’t either!
There are three tips given which we can apply to helping teachers use videoconferencing appropriately in their curriculum:
- Database. The database idea is an interesting one, and you should read the whole description in the article. Now for videoconferencing there are several tools for finding VCs that apply to your curriculum, but they still aren’t “next to the teacher” as described in the article. So we still need media specialists and building coordinators to see what’s available and suggest options to teachers. This filtering of resources and opportunities is a nice fit for a media specialist’s work. Some of my coordinators forward emails to specific teachers; others print descriptions of programs and put it in the teacher’s inbox.
- Survey. This is an interesting idea too. Ask the teachers what media they need. Or in VC’s case, ask them what curriculum topics they are focusing on. This information helps you make connections between the teachers’ curriculum topics and the opportunities available.
- Weekly Email. Well, weekly might be a bit too often for VC. But emails of opportunities are a great way for teachers to find out about the options. There are still many teachers in my county who only know about the VC opportunities that I email out. They don’t have time or the energy to check out my website and do their own searches.
What other tips can you think of after reading the article?
Have you thought about how using videoconferencing for meetings instead of driving makes a positive impact on the environment?
TANDBERG has just released a website called SeeGreenNow that lets you calculate your carbon footprint from travel, take a quiz to test your Green-IQ, take a pledge to reduce your business’ carbon emissions, and read about success stories.
How often do YOU videoconference instead of traveling?
As part of my Leadership studies, I’ve been reading a book called Leadership and the New Science. It’s a book that will blow your mind! Seriously, if you want a paradigm change, add this to your summer reading.
Here’s a little sample that applies to our work (my emphasis):
I’ve worked with some college faculties torn apart by the availability of technology. The more technologically eager faculty accuse the reticent ones of being out-of-date and resistant to change — they berate their colleagues for not climbing on the technology bandwagon. I always suggest that a different conversation is needed. What if we stop assuming that technology’s value to a teacher is self-evident? What if we stop assuming that anybody who doesn’t adopt new technology is an antiquated Luddite whose only interest is to stop the march of progress? If we gitve up those assumptions, we can begin a different conversation, one that helps us connect to one another and learn more about how we each see the world. We can step back from the technology issue and ask one another what called us into teaching. We can listen to the aspirations that are voiced. What we will hear is that most of us went into teaching for noble purposes — we wanted to make a difference in the lives of students and to advance human wisdom.
If we have this conversation first, we can discover one another as colleagues. Then we are reading to talk about technology. How might computers assist a professor to be more effective at his or her craft?
How might videoconferencing be used to meet goals that teachers find meaningful? (like helping students understand the world?) What do you think? Start by answering this question yourself. What called you into teaching?? Now think about asking a colleague the same question when you get back to school…. Prepare to really listen to their story….
Here’s a funny article from IVCI’s newsletter: Top Ten Reasons Why VC Meetings Fail. My favorite is:
The user schedules the meeting, invites the guests, prepares the presentation and then fails to show up because he/she doesn’t want to be seen on video!
Reminds me of my Top Ten Reasons Why a VC Gets Cancelled. What are your craziest stories?
Most of you reading this blog are already familiar with Global Nomads. If you missed the Project UGANDA programs this past spring, check out the videos they’ve posted online. Showing a bit of this in a workshop would be a great way to introduce teachers to the power of videoconferencing.
Just in time for your summer workshops is a new version of the Project Templates Booklet that many of you have been using. (It’s linked on the TWICE projects page and on our BCISD DL projects page.)
New Project Templates
I’m really excited about this new version. It is twice as long (but still only 10 pages folded & stapled into a booklet). There are several new project templates, the results of ideas simmering in my brain since NECC last summer when I listened to Bernie Dodge talk about WebQuests. I have felt for a while that it’s getting time to increase the interaction and level of thinking in collaborative VC projects. Exchanges are easy to start with, but then you want more!
Middle school and high school teachers especially want more than just a simple exchange. My teacher who designed the Invasive species project hasn’t done it again because it didn’t turn out to be “meaty” enough for her curriculum goals. I think some of the new higher level thinking templates based on WebQuest tasks might work better for her class and other middle and high school teachers.
IP VCR / H.323 Video Recorder Projects
I’m also excited about the new IP VCR projects. I called them that because the Codian name IP VCR seems to be the most descriptive of what this box does. Is there a generic term for it? I haven’t heard one. But this year as I’ve learned about the Codian IP VCR, the Polycom RSS, and the TANDBERG Content Server, I’ve been thinking about the possibilities for projects, especially international projects. Any projects ideas challenged by time zones could be adapted to use one of these boxes. Classes dial in, record their part. Wake up the next morning, listen to the other class, record their response. See the projects booklet for more details!
Finally, at the prompting of my friends at VCAlberta, I added a page for evaluation. It’s a start towards thinking about how we evaluate videoconference projects.
So I hope this new booklet is useful for you in your workshops this summer. If you want to try out any of the new formats with one of your classes & mine, let me know! Your feedback and ideas are always appreciated!
Here’s a collection of notes & thoughts….
- I’m about halfway through listening to the whole interview between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at the D Conference last week. It’s great evening entertainment for those interested in technology. I caught a reference by Bill Gates to videoconferencing and looked it up. Microsoft is working on a teleconferencing product called RoundTable. Intriguing, but it seems to be designed for meetings and may not work well in a classroom setting. But might work for shared classes. Something to keep our eyes on.
- Did you know that TANDBERG has an education newsletter? Here’s a sample from my inbox and here’s how to subscribe. Enjoy!
- This is really cool from CSD’s blog. A parent wanted to find out about a museum they connected to so they could visit on their summer vacation! Isn’t that cool!! Content providers, you never know when you’re inspiring an actual visit to your museum!!
- Mark your calendar for Megaconference Jr. on February 21, 2008. You won’t want to miss it!!
- PBwiki came out with a new word-like editor this spring. Makes editing in a wiki a whole lot easier. Also, I’ve recently updated the list of collaborative projects on our collaborative VCs wiki. Lots of great examples of VC projects for your summer trainings!
- The New York Hall of Science has a nice set of bios on their presenters (explainers) on their blog. Check it out.
Here’s an interesting article from the IVCi Newsletter on How to Fund Videoconferencing for Your Classroom. You can get this newsletter via email too.
Also in this newsletter was a feature on TANDBERG’s new FieldView product. It looks like a digital camera – but brings VC to the field. Very intriguing. I wonder how easy it is to get on a network. And would it work via a cable modem? Bandwidth and connectivity seem to be the big challenge of connecting on location.
I was wandering across the Internet recently and found this link to YouTube videos about videoconferencing linked from the AT&T (SBC / Pacbell) Videoconferencing site. These links probably won’t work at school (they don’t for me), so try them at home. (Issues with YouTube include inappropriate comments on the page featuring the clip and that’s an issue with some of these too. Beware!)
Here’s some clips that show the use of videoconferencing outside the school setting:
Video clips that feature school use:
There are many more including Cisco and Tandberg ads (including some funny Russian Tandberg cartoon ads); examples of Cisco’s Telepresence system featured in popular shows, and other odds & ends. If you’re ever looking for some partially work related entertainment, here’s a place to start!
Here’s a little treat for you. I’ve just added a Printable Content Provider List to our VC Program Database linked on TWICE and Polycom. It pulls directly from the our database, so each time you print it, it’s the most up-to-date information we have at the time. At this moment, it has 219 providers and prints in 38 pages! Yikes! I wish it was even shorter for printing, but I don’t think you want the font even smaller! If you have any suggestions on this, I’m all ears!
This is the beginning of updates to several workshop tools and resources that I hope to update in preparation for summer workshops. I’ll be sharing them here so you can use them too!