Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Video conferencing tips?

I am about to take a bold new step into the world of 21st century teaching. I have finally decided to take on a video conference.  I am looking for advice from ANYONE who has set up one of these before.  Here is what I have planned thus far.
1. Introduce students to our guest through his resume and a piece of his writing.
2. Encourage students to create a class list of questions beforehand to hopefully avoid the sound of crickets as we start at one another through the abyss of the video screen.
3. Introduce the speaker to my students.  I've given him a heads up about some of the interests of my students and plan to give him a bit more information after picking through their brains some more.
4. Do a trial run.  I plan to set up the video conference ahead of time to make sure I can iron out most of the bugs before going live on conference day.

I'm hoping to use Google+ hangouts, but right now it appears that I am locked out of that under the Gaston county cloud.  If pressed, I will use Skype.  Other than some video conferences with our family back home, I have little to no experience with this.  I'm a bit apprehensive of how this may all play out, but I think if it goes well it could be a great learning experience for all involved.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The trouble with technology...

is that it doesn't always work the way you think it will. One of the first assignments I had my students do required that they watch a video on YouTube. As the students fired up the computers for the first time, I was excited about their assignment, then they all started saying, "YouTube is blocked!", "I can't get in!", and "This won't work!"  Of course it won't work, only teachers have YouTube unblocked, duh! I quickly pulled up the video on my computer and had them watch it on the SmartBoard before proceeding with the rest of the assignment.   I have avoided further issues with blocked content by having a student in the NCVPS class I monitor check out assignments before I give them.  Other than that, my problems have been minimal.  I've had days when the wi-fi is slow or when the laptops don't get plugged in, but I don't consider those to be serious issues.  As far as avoiding these issues next year, I'm sure I'll avoid most pitfalls, but I'll find myself doing some quick troubleshooting when something doesn't work the way it should. Unfortunately, as Scotty McCreery says, "nobody loves trouble as much as me."  :-)