Courses, Lessons, and Tutoring
There are many reasons for using videoconferencing with the most basic being, participants simply cannot travel to the "remote site." Videoconferencing allows users to meet even if they are on the other side of the ocean, or to visit places that normally are not open to the public. Here are just a few ways videoconferencing might be used for instruction:
- Students take classes not offered at their school, such as advanced honors, foreign language, or music courses.
- Schools and community colleges offer classes during off-hours and to students who cannot attend traditional classes.
- Community colleges team up with businesses to offer employee training or certification.
- Teachers team-teach with remote teachers, sharing subject matter expertise or a unique approach to a topic.
- Students meet with tutors for enrichment, remediation, or a helpful bit of personal attention. This is great way for businesses to support schools.
- A librarian offers an introduction to library services and library tour for local schools before they come to the library.
If you are considering developing a telecourse or lesson, see Using Compressed Video for Distance Learning for further information, ideas, instructions, checklists, instructional strategies, and more. Our Links section will connect you to related resources.
Example: Students Learn Web Authoring Skills from SDSU Fellows
In the original Pacific Bell project, NonProfit Prophets, Century High School students in Santa Ana took advantage of videoconferencing technology to learn web authoring, to meet with nonprofit organizations, and to collaborate with students at other schools as they built web pages for nonprofit groups. San Diego State University Fellows and graduate students helped coach students on HTML and design and provided feedback along the way. Videoconferencing was also used to support teachers as they explored new learning strategies.
Virtual Field Trips
Your class can communicate first-hand with experts in many fields to enhance understanding of a subject they are studying. This real-world contact can heighten interest, improve motivation, and increase retention. Although many people first think of offering complete courses over videoconferencing, it has been our experience that connecting with a guest speaker or taking a "virtual trip" is the easiest way to get started in videoconferencing and serves as one of the most popular uses of the technology. Many museums, zoos, and other organizations are finding that videoconferencing dramatically increases their outreach and participants are seeing and interacting with these content providers in ways that cannot be done in person. Here are some ways field trips could enhance learning:
- Students organize and moderate a panel discussion with a dolphin trainer, fisherman, and animal rights activist as part of an ocean unit.
- A librarian using document sharing technology, auxiliary input, or a whiteboard answers questions about research and actually demonstrates search queries using the online catalog.
- Students connect with athletes at an Olympic Training Center for advice and feedback on sports, training, and health issues.
- Students watch a play performed at a remote site followed by interaction with the actors.
- Interview the author of a book that a class is reading.
- Students meet with university advisors for admission counseling or interviews.
- A remote teacher or student role-plays a historical or literary figure.
- A graphic arts student shares a document with a professional or client for feedback and evaluation.
It's important to keep in mind that encounters with guests must be planned. Learners should participate in the encounter and the planning if appropriate. Guests need to know about the audience, the agenda, and videoconferencing. Like the telephone, videoconferencing works best as an interactive medium, and the audience and speaker will have to be prepared to use the technology effectively. It's a good idea to follow the practices of any public speaking or dramatic event as far as considering lighting, acoustics, participants positioning, and so on.
Example: Video Field Trip with NASA
Mendocino teacher Cory Wisnia used videoconferencing to connect his students with NASA Digital Learning as a final activity in a Mendocino Middle School Science/Engineering Project called Self-Sufficient Living Spaces: Astrospheres, Aquaspheres & Terraspheres!. According to Wisnea, "We were introduced to two young NASA folks, a women physicist from Oklahoma, and a future Astronaut-in-training. Their video viewers took us first to an overview of the Space Station Mock up trainer, which was in a building 600 feet long and also has a Space Shuttle mockup. We zoomed in to a number of places. Then the two guides took us by remote access INSIDE the mockup room, and explained everything and how the equipment works and how it had been developed."
"The students had lots of questions and were pretty well prepared for issues which related to the activity. We were shown where and how the astronauts sleep, go to the bathroom, work on botanicals and crystals, etc. We were able to converse directly with the NASA guides in order to ask question as the presentation was happening. Students asked questions about how astronauts were recruited, whether the botanicals would supply oxygen for breathing (not planned at present), what happens when you get a whole in the suit, what is done with waste, and many other topics."
Videoconferencing provides unique opportunities to collaborate with schools throughout the district, across the country, or around the world. To find videoconferencing schools and content providers, search the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC).
- Teachers and students collaborate and exchange information with other schools in areas such as peer counseling, bilingualism, and student government.
- Students communicate with "video pals" to experience diverse cultures and ways of life, both economic and ethnic. Video pals also provide an excellent opportunity for foreign language practice.
- Schools known for outstanding programs or projects model those projects for other schools.
- Contests between schools -- debates, spelling bees, or research conferences -- take place via two-way video.
- Videoconferencing facilitates distributed cooperative learning, where groups at distant sites take on a learning task and teach remote peers.
- Distributed projects make use of videoconferencing technology for collaboration and communication.
Example: Life in the Fishbowl
Lupe Guerrero taught fourth and fifth grade at Bryant Elementary in San Francisco. He partnered with Deena Zarlin, a fourth grade teacher in Mendocino, to share Spanish language activities via videoconferencing. The students received so much benefit from the relationship that Lupe and Deena made a decision to keep the videoconferencing unit on during other parts of the school day, and "life in the fishbowl," as they named it, was born.
Lupe feels that the combination of videoconferencing, e-mail, and related Internet research has provided a good foundation for his students to get comfortable using telecommunications. Sharing what they know and what they are learning with their counterparts in Mendocino has reinforced the students' pride in themselves and has proven to be a great motivator for the acquisition of additional language skills. It has also begun to build a sense of community between the two classrooms as they discover the differences and similarities in personal interests, culture, and academics between the two populations.
Videoconferencing provides many exciting opportunities to support professional activities--and save time and money! The following describe creative and innovative uses of videoconferencing for teachers and librarians.
- Students enrolled in teacher education courses can observe and critique innovative teaching practices in school classrooms and later discuss them.
- Anyone can share expertise, ideas, and training with peers providing " just-in-time learning." This can eliminate seting up formal training, travelling, and finding substitutes for the classroom or library.
- Teachers can mentor new teachers who may have limited peer support groups within their own school districts.
- Interviews, meetings, presenting at conferences, and other administrative tasks can be done over video.
Example: Software Update Training
Today, everyone employed in the IT department learns how to logon to the new portal system that's being implemented throughout the district. Employees at several locations participate in the training seminar through a videoconference. They can ask questions, hear each other's questions, and can see the new software in action because the trainer is able to switch camera views.
At the end of the videoconference, the trainer sends each location a file with the information that was covered and updates that were added during the session. The entire session was digitally recorded and can be used later for on-demand viewing.
Libraries, communitiy colleges, and schools can use videoconferencing to support public interest events. Libraries and community centers are seeking ways to partner with local businesses and are recovering their videoconferencing costs by charging a fee for services. Some common uses include:
- Town hall meetings, government hearings, school board meetings, court functions, and other government-related activities.
- Public health discussions
- Support of special interests or hobbies
- Adult education in areas such as English, literacy, job training, etc.
Example: Kaiser Permanente's "Secrets" troupe performed over videoconferencing to four high schools which participated in the Education First program as demonstration sites. The Secrets performance is all about making students aware of HIV, AIDS, and the ordinary people who get it. Secrets is one of four productions produced by Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs.