Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Interactive Video Conferencing Classes

I am fortunate enough this year to have the opportunity to teach some students on the other side of the state via IVC. We are just now getting all of the bugs worked out with our network, lab, and polycom IVC unit, but this type of instruction looks promising. Our new lab was funded by a grant and I am teaching as an ACCESS teacher.

Now, I just have to work the bugs out of my teaching and figure out how to best serve the students in my local classroom and the students in the classrooms on the other side of the state at the same time. My local students keep watching me on the televisions rather than watching me. Imagine that! A generation of students more interested in the video monitor than the real thing.

If you’re not familiar with IVC process then you are missing out. Our lab is set up with a polycom unit, which has two cameras. One of the cameras is dedicated to the instructor and the other is dedicated to my students. In the lab three plasma screen televisions, a computer, document camera, and LCD projector are connected to the polycom unit. Additionally, two very sensitive microphones are mounted in the class. Like the cameras, one is dedicated to the instructor and the other is dedicated to the students.

Connecting to the remote schools requires imputing the external IP addresses for the IVC units there and pressing call on a remote. Once connected with the remote schools I can see both of my remote classes and communicate with them. The lag time of our connection is less than one second and the IT people in my school are working diligently to decrease it even more. However, this will require a new dedicated switch for the lab. In laymen terms, the switch will create a almost direct route to our new lab and IVC unit. The new switch should almost entirely eliminate the lag time and make the process more efficient.

At the remote schools each lab has a facilitator to supervise and help with the classes there. Also, Alabama Super Computer Authority keeps the connections between the schools flowing at a sufficient rate. All in all, this is a very high tech setup and it is indeed the wave of the future. I’m just happy to be a part of the process now.

What does all of this mean? Well, in the intelligent words of Karl Fisch, “Shift Happens!” If you don’t understand the term then you should visit one of my old posts featuring his informative video. It can be found HERE.

Warm Regards,

William Bishop (Bill)

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2 Comments:

Blogger ooVooworld said...

Hi Bill, Interesting to see your work in this area as I have been looking for similar case studies using free video conferencing.

I write for ooVooworld, the unofficial WOM world about the free video chat download ooVoo, and wondered if you think this kind of app is 'the future' as much as the more expensive, supervised systems you discuss here - potentially more democratic and accessible to everyone?

Do you have any experiences or opinions of people using applications like ooVoo in teaching in this way?

Many thanks, Molly

11:03 AM  
Blogger WBishop said...

Molly,

Safety comes first in K12 public education as well it should. Now, with that being said I do believe that there is a future for ooVoo and other applications like ooVoo at the college/university level. OoVoo looks very cool and as networks improve I am sure that applications like ooVoo will become more the norm.

Supervision is a positive thing when you are dealing with students under the age of 18. The Latin term "en loco parentis" rings true for all educators at the K12 level as well it should. We do our best to keep our students safe in school and online.

As for experience with ooVoo, I have not had any experience as of yet. It is very interesting though and looks like a great tool. I suggest contacting Vicki A. Davis and asking her. http://www.coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/ She is a guru in the tech world and knows more people than I do...Thanks for the comment and let me know if I can help with anything.

10:07 PM  

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