When Things Go Wrong

In the 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing workshop last week, my participants asked me to tell my stories of all the things that can go wrong with a videoconference.

I shared several stories, most of which I’ve written about before in Top Ten Reasons a VC Gets Cancelled.

Then we talked about what to do about it.

  • Have a backup plan. It’s always a good idea with any technology lesson plan to have a backup plan in case the technology (or electricity) fails! Have another lesson plan or simple activity students can do while they are waiting. Make a list of everything you know about where you are connecting. Brainstorm questions for the place you’re connecting to. Content activities. Puzzles. Etc.
  • Dressing up. If you’ve been partnered with me for Read Across America, you may have seen me in my Cat in the Hat outfit. I dress up every year so just in case the connection doesn’t work, the students have something interesting to see and they can share their presentation with me. Sure helps with some of the frustration.
  • Rescheduling. Sometimes rescheduling is all you can do. That in itself can be challenging. But this is a good reason to have the equipment in the building. Makes it easier to go back to class and continue on if things don’t work!

As we ended the discussion in the workshop, one of the participants reminded everyone of one of the optional articles for reading. It includes a checklist for videoconferencing that deals with this issue.

Turrell, G. “Good Practice in the Use of Video Conferencing.” ATHENA. May 7, 2004.

Do you have any creative ideas for what to do when things go wrong? Share them in comments!

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