Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Using videoconferencing to connect your class to the world

Video conferencing can be used to engage students in learning, build cultural understanding, to learn from experts and reach homebound students. Here are several examples.

Connecting Students to Build Cultural Understanding
Teachers assist students in creating a list of questions to ask from any content area to build a better cultural understanding and build relationships with students from other countries. Students can learn about the history of that country, cultural foods, climate, religion, celebrations, language, school and other information from the country.
Check out the innovative project Michael Kaechele did with his 7th grade students using Skype:

Students Learn from Experts
Skype provides the Skype an Author Network for teachers to select an author to speak about their book with students. -
This is a great way to get students involved in reading and be able to ask questions about the book. Another great way to use Skype is to connect to leading experts in the field of science, technology, engineering or math to build interest and knowledge in STEM fields. Here is the link to a blog site that includes the Karl Fish video conference about Transparent Algebra with a group of students -

Think about the community colleges, universities and companies in your area that employ experts in many fields that would be of interest to your students.

Reaching Homebound Students
If the teacher’s classroom has a webcam and computer, and a homebound student has a computer and webcam then the student could be involved with the classroom as much as possible seeing, questioning and participating along with the other students.

How about the student or teacher who is traveling during the school year? Certainly sharing the sites and information about another country would be exciting for the students.

Rules for Videoconferencing
What rules do you need to follow for your school district in regards to using videoconferencing? Here are a few rules to think about before getting started.
  1. What rules—if any—does your school or district already have in place for videoconferencing
    • Synchronous video conference may take more bandwidth than your school can handle. Check with the technology staff first.
  2. What rules — if any — does your district have for inviting guest speakers into your classroom?
    • What procedures do you need to follow before guest speakers may present to your students?
  3. What videoconferencing application are you planning on using?
  4. What other skills do your students need to learn in order to make videoconferencing a productive learning experience?
    • Pre-planning and preparing your students before the video conference is important. Consider these ideas:
      • Possible handout of do’s and don’ts with regard to questions, how they present themselves on camera, use of only first names, etc.
      • Formulate a list of questions with the students that will be used during the conference to keep the conversation focused.
      • How will be possible answers the students receive from the guest speaker change the way students thought about an issue or the work they are doing?
      • How will students report what they’ve learned?
  5. How will you go about finding partners to work with?
    • Just knowing there are thousands of teachers who would like to connect with other classrooms should encourage teachers to think about using videoconferencing as part of their lessons. Teachers need to decide on the learning outcomes from the video conference when considering a guest speaker.
      • To help students better understand the challenges from third world countries think about South America, Africa or Southeast Asia.
      • To help students better understand the differences in life and cultures think about capitalist or socialist country, possibly Europe.
  6. Where do you look for guest speakers and videoconferencing information?

To read the entire article from LeanNC by Bill Ferrite, please go to:


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Kim said...


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Kim Roddy
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