Well, to say the least weâ€™ve had quite the response to our Skype and video projects! Thanks to all that have commented and showed such great support of what we are trying to do. I was especially intrigued for another reason by this comment:
Youâ€™ve made a convert. Being a district admin, I am initially cautious of new technologies that may tax an already overextended systemâ€¦ but youâ€™ve proven that the cost is far outweighed by the benefits.
Congrats. Youâ€™ve touched more than one life.
It has only been 2 weeks, and we have only managed to Skype less than half that time â€“ partly because we are in a heavy assessment period (11 days of testing in a less than a 30 day period) and for other reasons too â€“ some technical, some medical. There is definitely a learning curve for all involved.
Videoconferencing works really well for certain types of lessons â€“ brainstorming for writing (which was our first activity on the first day) works well for example â€“ and Celest seems to be able to follow along pretty well in math – I use several web sites to have students practice multiplication facts and she is able to be just one of the students in class when we do that also. Other types of lessons we will have to work out how best to include her. I really want to try involving her in group discussions for example â€“ and I think we can get her in music class too â€“ the music room might be close enough to one of our wireless hubs that I can carry the laptop and web cam in so she can sing along â€“ the music teacher is game, so we will give it a try.
The iMac computer she is using has a built-in iSight camera which Iâ€™m finding out might be a disadvantage. I can move the USB connected web cam we have in class around to show her things â€“ even the screen on the laptop we use if necessary,Â â€“ it would be nice if she could show me what she is doing sometimes to either troubleshoot an application issue she is having or so I could see her writing as she is doing it – but that built-in camera doesn’t lend itself well to that.
My school districtâ€™s bandwidth is barely adequate so we have periods where she comes in loud and clear and times when the sound drops out a lot. Of course Friday a local TV news reporter came to do a report (she helped get the computer) and the HP we usually use would not connect at all â€“ so I used my Mac laptop and an iSight camera â€“ there was a constant buzz, the sound dropped out and we had to reconnect every few minutes â€“ other than that things went well, things went well, things went well â€¦
My other students are still â€œoverly intriguedâ€ by it all, so I have to shoo them away (occasionally) from waving into the camera during transitions â€“ but I know that in the not-to-distant future this will just be what we do and become fairly transparent.
Iâ€™ll keep you posted on our progress.
Learning is messy!