Monday, November 30, 2015

3 Tools to Video Conference

As we work through the Teaching and Learning Roadmap, I am continually looking for more opportunities to connect with the outside world.  Over the past several weeks I have seen Westerville teachers and students connecting with a weatherman in Texas, Marzetti Dressing and with a classroom in China. The connections have provided students with opportunities to ask questions of experts, gain new perspectives and hold conversations with other students from around the world.
Below is a list of things to remember when connecting to an outside resource and three excellent choices in our district to support your connections. These are not the only choices but we have tested these connections and they work well within our network. 

Things to Remember when connecting outside our district:
  1. Test your connection to the other site with microphone, speaker and projector before the video call.
  2. On a Chromebook the microphone is built in.
  3. On a desktop, an external microphone will be needed if your students will be interacting with the connection site. Contact your WCSOH EdTech Coach if you need a microphone.
  4. Mute your microphone when on the conference call. Unmute when necessary.
  5. Make sure the lights are on and sunlight is not behind you.
  6. Position the camera at eye level.
  7. Look at the camera when talking.
  8. Speak up
  9. Introduce yourself before talking.
  10. If more than one site, give your name and location before speaking.
  11. If more than one site, direct your question to a specific site.
  12. Set up a backchannel to communicate with the other group you are trying to connect with.

Three Great Tools to Video Conference
1. Google Hangouts -Works with our desktops(remember to connect an external microphone) and Chromebooks.  Check out "How Educators and Schools can Make the Most out of Google hangouts," for a great description of how teachers are using Hangouts with their classroom. After reading the article join the Google Hangouts in Education Community or Mystery Hangout.  Here you will find teachers from all over the world looking for classrooms to connect with and your students.  If you need assistance setting this up, contact your WCSOHEdTech Coach.

2. Skype in the Classroom - Skype only works with our desktop computers. Again, please remember to use a microphone if you plan to have your students talk during your connection.  Start by reading "Skype Connects Classrooms with Field Trips Around the World."  The article explains how classrooms are connecting around the world and gives links to make connections with teachers.  Check out Sypke Field Trips and Mystery Skypes when you are ready to begin Skyping with other classrooms.

3. Big Blue Button in Schoology - Big Blue Button is the video conference tool provided to all Schoology Enterprise districts. It works on both desktops and Chromebooks. Using Big Blue Button allows a teacher to set up conference calls with other Schoology classrooms.  The nice part is that students can enter the call on their own using their Chromebook but cannot create their own video conference call.  This allows the teacher to create small group calls and assign students to the group call. This is great for classroom to classroom collaboration. Here is directions how to use Schoology Big Blue Button. If you need help finding other Schoology teachers to connect with, contact your WCSOH EdTech Coach.

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