Archive for the 'Videoconference' Category

Teaching or Educating with Web 2.0 Tools

If teaching is to impart (or stuff in) knowledge & educating is to nourish (or pull out), which do we use technology for?

Any technology can be used for either. A wiki can be used to push stuff in such as a chapter summary or it can be used to have students think through the pros and cons of a real life situation.   Just because a technology is a Web 2.0 does not make it an educating technology.   Videoconferencing can deliver lectures (teaching) or have students share similarities and differences in local folktales (educating).  Social bookmarking does not necessarily educate, it can just provide lists of websites (teaching).

How do you use Web 2.0 Tools?

Simple yet powerful technology

I believe that when a technology is simple to use, then teachers will use it.  Witness the Smartboard and the Document camera.  Simple technologies can be powerful technologies.  They do not require thousands of hours of professional development. They do not require long learning curves.  Teachers “get it” and can use them.   They can involve their students in that technology with minimal prep.  I think that often we over look simple technologies like word processing, digital camera, document  cameras, and smartboards. Let’s promote technologies that teachers can and will use instead of complex technologies that often require someone else to set things up like videoconferencing.  Let’s focus on what teachers have in their classrooms!

Not Really Web 2.0 Classroom Use

When is a Web 2.0 tool, not a Web 2.0 tool? The answer is when we use a Web 2.0 tool as a Web 1.0 tool. I hear of many schools that have blogs. Students post their ideas to the blog but they do not respond to each other. The blogs are closed to the class. They only blog during class time. I don’t see that as a Web 2.0 tool use.

Students use Google docs to share their documents for peer-review. Ok, they are sharing a document but how different is this than sharing a physical paper within the class? The sharing just allows the other person access to make comments. They could do it with email.

I see videoconferencing that is 85% lecture or demonstration. The students do a token activity. Is that an example of social sharing? Or is videoconferencing really a one-way tool to dispense information?

How do you use Web 2.0 tools in your classroom?

Videoconferencing and Standards: Content Providers or Teachers


I recently read some information that teachers feel that their students benefit from videoconferencing since there are standards. Content providers usually provide a standard (or standards) for each videoconference. I’ve looked at the standards supplied by various content providers and I’ve noticed that usually the providers do not supply a specific subcomponent of the standard. The providers indicate the standard at its most general level. My biggest objection is that the content providers are supplying the standard and not the classroom teacher.

The classroom teachers should be selecting content providers’ programs based on the subcomponents of the standards that they want their students to achieve. The classroom teachers should be verifying that the activities in the videoconference lead the students to the highest level of thinking in the standard subcomponent. The classroom teachers should make sure that assessment of the standard subcomponent is included in the videoconference or very soon after the videoconference. Classroom teachers should not leave standards-based learning to a videoconference content provider.

How do help your videoconference content provider to meet your standards-based learning?

Videoconferencing Effectiveness: Thrill or Learning?


In the USA Today article “Schools become virtual zoos” (Aug. 2, 2007, 6D), a teacher comments “I think it was really effective.” and another teacher says, “It is a wonderful experience.” Students respond with “Cool!” and “Neat!” The article was obviously a pro-virtual learning article.

However, no teacher mentioned that the students actually learned anything related to state standards. No teacher mentioned any activity that their students did to demonstrate their learning from the zoo visit. Is the focus of these videoconferences the thrill of seeing animals or the specific standards-based learning with measurable outcomes? Did the teachers select these videoconferences to improve the learning of their students or to give them a “great experience”? How closely does this virtual zoo visit match the teachers’ actual standards-based curriculum?

Virtual field trips can be wonderful educational experiences if the teachers’ standards-based curriculum determines the selection of the field trip, the learning outcomes of the trip, and the evaluation of the students’ learning.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Videoconferencing: Outside the Four Walls of the Classroom


I’m proofing a book chapter on videoconferencing that I wrote in Nov. As I re-read it, I am amazed about how little videoconferencing is actually used in the P-12 area. I know of a school district where every school has one or two videoconferencing carts. Yet,this year there has been only a handful of conferences in the whole district.

Why do teachers not want to videoconferences with others? Why do they not want to use the expertise of other teachers? Why do they not want to be the expert for others? Why do they not want their students to learn from students in other locations? Why do they not want their students to act globally?

In one school, I demonstrated videoconferencing with two live videoconferences that related directly to their English Language Arts curriculum. Has anyone used it? No!

Videoconferencing is one of the easiest technologies to use- dial their IP and connect. Probably teachers do not using it since it is an outside-the-class approach. The four walls of the classroom are visibly blown away by videoconferences. A class can just as easily videoconference with another school in the district as a classroom on the other side of the globe. A teacher’s book knowledge confronts real world knowledge.

How have you used videoconferencing this year?


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Videoconferencing and Districts- Sharing Teachers and Globalizing Education

Teach via videoconferencing

Videoconferencing has the power to overcome distances. Many schools are located in rural areas where they cannot provide a quality education at the advanced levels. A very simple solution is for students from those locations to videoconference with an educator who teaches in that advanced level regardless of where the educator is physically located. The technology of videoconferencing is so simple yet there are so many policy and parochial views that prevent its use in education.

With videoconferencing, a teacher can teach to students in any location. Why should we limit a teacher to the physical location of within a school? Why should we assume that one teacher is an expert in all aspects of their subject area? When I was teaching, I would have loved to have had another teacher who knew more than I did about African-American literature teach that part of my course. I would have taught his/her Latin American literature part of the course. Why not have a teacher from Latin American teach the Latin American literature part of the course? Why not use the expertise of each teacher regardless of where that teacher is located?

Maybe we can promote a virtual teacher exchange through videoconferencing! You teach part of my course and I’ll teach part of yours. Our students would benefit so much more than in our present system. We can develop a community of global educators!

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Music Learning To a Higher Beat Through Technology

music notes

Music teachers have many wonderful technology resources that can help their students. Here are a few.

Student interviews another student about her music -Kingswood #3
Your students can explain their musical compositions before they play them.

David Honeyboy Edwards Youtube music blues in a shoebox

Thelonius Monk in Berlin 4:12

Tons of student made music videos to critic

Have your explain how to do something in music through an emovie (you can post it to YouTube for the world to see)

Has your class been Youtubed (blog entry) Search to see choir, instrumental, etc.

Have students sing or write a song based on a picture from Flickr. Or give the class the same general topic (family) and have them pick a picture from within that topic for their music.

Have students select pictures to illustrate a song or instrumental piece. They compare their pictures and explain their understanding of the piece.

Graphic Organizers/Inspiration
Students show the historical connections, cultural connections, famous artists, famous examples, time period, and characteristics for a style of music.

Have your choir learn how to sing a song in French from a French choir, sing it for them, and sing it with them.

Your students can watch up close as a famous instrumentalist plays. The students can play and the expert can give them constructive feedback.

Software/Online resources
Free Finale Notepad to create music

Elementary Music Bulletin Boards

Music resources

So how do music teachers involve students in their music learning through technology in your district? How do they use interactive technology to improve the quality of music learning?


© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007





A Superintendent’s Conference Day on ELA through Technology

ELA and many technology

I had the wonderful experience of being the keynoter on ELA and technology at an elementary school. I did a presentation on improving ELA skills through videoconferencing where we videoconferenced with two “sites” – one on listening to an “expert” read a science poem and answering questions and one peer to peer on Readers Theatre about Three Little Pigs with human tableaus to show comprehension.

Then I did an interactive presentation on Increasing ELA learning through Technology in which I went through Vocabulary, Basic/Literal Reading, and Inference Reading. Many teacher commented that they never thought of using technology to improve these specific ELA learning. Numerous of the activities were based on Robert Marzano’s work.

Then I did a mini-workshop on creating Big Books using PowerPoints.

I was very impressed with the faculty. They were attentive and participated. They seemed eager to learn new techniques. I was amazed when I told them how to search for PowerPoints on a topic (topic +.ppt or “term” +.ppt such as “Rhyming Words” +.ppt), most admitted that no one had ever shown them that technique. Several had taken full day district workshops on PowerPoint.

What do you do to make subject area technology use easier for teachers? How do you help your fellow teachers? Do you share your Sight Words PowerPoint? Do you work together to find great images for the PowerPoint that has few words? Or do you take over their keyboard and do it for them which disempowers them?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Videoconference- Not very Distant and Not very Educational

Videoconference global range

A friend emailed me about a “humorous” situation with the videoconferencing machines in his district. He can dial any school within the district since those addressed have been pre-installed in the videoconference machines. He can only dial out to another non-district school when another teacher gives him her IP address. He cannot have other classes dial in. He has been told it will take hours to enable the dial-in feature. Apparently he is only to videoconference within the district, he should forget “distance learning”. Furthermore, he was told that he should only attempt a videoconference when a technician is there.

The question is who has the “control” in this situation? The teacher? The technician? The teacher probably will not want to pursue videoconferencing if it is such a hassle. On the other hand, the district is screaming because these expensive videoconferencing carts are not being used by the teachers.

Does the technology and technicians in your district support your educational learning experiences or do they serve as roadblocks? Can you quickly and easily set up and use your school’s videoconferencing unit or is it kept under lock and key? Can you videoconference with a school any place in the world or are you forced into videoconferencingly only within your own district?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


An Interactive Whale Videoconference


Recently a Science Club did a videoconference with a marine biologist in Georgia to learn more about whales. She focused on Gray’s Reef and whales, particularly the right whale that the students hope to see during a trip to Boston. The biologist showed many slides and movies. She explained complex ideas in very simple terms. She used terms such as “momma and baby” that the students could relate to. She divided the program into several different segments,each with new and indepth information about whales. She constantly asked factual questions about the information she was giving or asked questions as an introduction to a new segment. Even when a student was wrong, she very politely rephrased the answer so it would be correct. She gave several opportunities for the students to ask any questions they had about whales. She was very aware of the class to whom she was presenting. Her ability to tell stories about the whales made the content very memorable to the students.

During the whole videoconference, the longest time in which she did not ask questions was eight minutes during the movie and the slide show. Although the students were interested in the movie and slide slide, their interest was not as high as when she asked them questions or allowed them to ask her questions.

The only part that I felt was weak was when she played whale sounds. I wished she had explained the possible purpose of those sounds so that the students did not just think that they were “weird” sounds.

The students’ questions to her showed that they had heard and understood what she had explained. Most often the students’ questions requested a more indepth explanation of something that she had said.

So what great videoconferences have your had? How could you tell that your students learned as a result of the videoconference?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Why is there bad Spanish translation on packages? Let’s learn to communicate globally


My son and I read Spanish on packages to see how skillful the translation is. We are always shocked by gross grammar errors, spectular spelling mistakes, and wrong word use. Sometimes the meaning is completely different.

I wonder how there can be so many errors in just one product description. A few sample errors from one product: “Soporta caidas y abolla duras”, “Cpuede trabajar” and “de alta o bajas temperraturas” Google’s Translator and AltaVista Babel Fish are two of the many translation programs on the Net. Itried some phrases using BabelFish and they came out much better than the product description.

How can we claim to be preparing students for a global world when our USA students have such a low degree of fluency in even one language?

How can other nations expect to compete in the global market if these nations cannot translate English into Spanish for bilingual packaging?

Let’s teach Spanish the way that people speak it so our students can use their new language. Let’s use technology such as videoconferencing to have our students have real conversations with Spanish speaking people so that they can be fluent in Spanish! Or we can Skype people in Spanish speaking countries so students interact and speak globally!

Can your students communicate in another language to be more global?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Skype Video Conferencing: Home Use to School Possibilities

Skype logo

I finally used Skype. I gave both my sons webcams and headphone mikes for the Christmas. One son is about 500 miles away so he does not get home much. We had no trouble connecting. He found out that he had to get the camera working first, restart Skype and then we could see each other. The joy of seeing him with all his facial expressions was heart warming. He got to show us the “computer room” by panning his webcam and to show us his new “toys” by holding them up to the camera.
The sound was quite good and the video quality of the camera was OK (a little grainy and quick movement became a slur on the screen). It reminded me of the early days of CUSeeme but with much better quality.

I thought of some possibilities for Skype in school:

-Shadowing a professional as she/he works

-Talking with people in labs, research centers, art studios, museums, “on location”

-Watching an expert do something or explain something (Your neighbor who does composting can explain it to the class and show her compost to them.)

-Class to class collaborative videoconferencing (not having to bring a big videoconferencing unit in the class and not having to go to the videoconferencing room is a big plus.) in all subject aeas.

-Conversing in the second language to people from that language area

– Watching an event such as a school play, a poetry jam, science demonstration (egg drop), etc.

– Another teacher from another district can help you co-teach your class since that teacher is an expert in the topic your students are doing.
-Mentor (A master teacher can watch your class and then give suggestions)

Skype presents a great example of bringing the world into our classroom and going into the world with our classroom. Did I mention it was free!!!!

So how have you used Skype in your school or what things would you like to do in your school with Skype?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Promoting or Discouraging Global Citizens (Multiculturalism) through Virtual Field Trips & VideoConferencing:


Two days ago I mentioned being at a virtual field trip. The students began to laugh and mock out a person who was chanting a prayer to Pele. The person was very demonstrative in saying the prayer in the native language.

The virtual field trip planners probably did not think that viewing students would have an adverse reaction to this culture. However, the students viewed this person as different and negative, a combination that does not usually contribute to being accepting of other cultures. The planners could have found similar examples in mainland USA such as a Native American Shaman praying, a Jewish cantor, a Muslim at prayer time, Wicca priestess “praying”, etc.

The virtual field trip planners did not plan ahead and therefore these students had a negative reaction to this cultural event. The students became less of global citizens by participating in the virtual field trip; they become more of “aren’t these other people weird” citizens.

How do you prepare your students to encounter another culture? Do they “leave” the virtual field trip or videoconference with a positive or negative attitude toward that culture?  Even if the cultural item, people, or event is different and negative, how do you help them to see it in another light? How can you show its similarity and how positive it is?


Virtual Field Trip: On the Right Learning Path?

Virtual Field Trip and Student learning

Today I went on a virtual field trip with some 4th graders. They had gone to the computer lab and had gone through some provided pre-activities. However, they became bored during the virtual field trip. Their complaints:

Too much talking

Fast talking

Too many pictures of people talking and not enough of what they were talking about

Many big words

They did not explain and practice the activity before doing all of it (a dance)

Things weren’t together (all the segments on animals were not together)

They could not call in with a question (the number was not clear on the screen)
The called in questions were all mixed up (not on the info just presented)

There was only one thing (activity) to do during the field trip

The picture was fuzzy (Quicktime and streaming)

It was too long (it was an hour)

Did they learn things? Learn may be too strong of a word. They were exposed to many disjointed ideas. Many segments interested them but most segments were very short (not quite a sound byte but close). The viewing students were never asked to think through a problem (Where do you think the lava would flow? Why do you think only birds were on the island?); they were just bombared with brief details.

We think that next time we’ll use an already done virtual field trip and only use certain segments of it. We can stop the “video” and talk about a concept so that the students understand the concept before going on. We can do an experiment during the field trip. We can help students see how a culture that seems very different is quite similar to them. We’ll engage the students. We’ll structure the experience so students can be on learning path.


Peer to Peer and Expert Videoconference: Student Learning, Engagement and Thinking Level

Expert videconferences often represents direct instruction, the saga on the stage.

Peer to peer videconferences often represent constructivism, the guide on the side.

I am partial to peer to peer videoconferences since usually the students are more engaged in creating materials for the videconference and more engaged during the videconference in presenting or performing.

Usually during a peer to peer videoconference, students engage in higher level thinking skills such as analysis or synthesis.

During a peer to peer videoconference, the teacher facilitates.

So what percentage of  P12 videoconferences are peer to peer? I would guess about 25%.

Many teachers select an expert videconference that requires no preparation. I would guess that the level of active engagement is probably about 40% for many expert videconferences while the engagement in peer to peer is probably 90%.  I would guess that the students engage in higher level thinking about 20%  of the time in an expert videoconference while  the number for peer to peer is closely to 40%.

Student Peer-to-peer Videoconferencing Categories

The following are different categories of student peer-to-peer videoconferencing. The more categories that you, an educator,  are aware of, the more you can select the category that will most benefit your students.  Most of these categories involve higher level thinking.

Instructional – Peer-to-peer: Students

– Brainstorm ideas
– Share what they have learned with each other
– Ask each other questions about a certain topic

– Survey each other and produce graph of results

– Collaborate with others to create something

– Debate
– Guessing game/ figure it out

– Compete in quiz shows or “be the first to”

– Participate in simulations

– Be part of round tables

– Teach a topic to another group

– Critique each other’s work


What other categories of  student peer to peer videoconferencing can you add?

Videoconferencing Ways, Types, or Cateogories in Public School Education

I’m doing a presentation in a few weeks on “20+ Ways of Videoconferencing in Education”. In a previous post (May  7, 2006 Videoconferencing in education: Students, Administration, Faculty, Community), I listed many different examples of videconferencing under the categories of administration, student, professional development, and community.  I would like to see how many more categories you can help me add before then and how many different examples we can generate.  So far I’ve thought of these general categories. If you have examples of a new category or type of videconference or of a more general category for one of these categories , please make a comment. Likewise, if you have examples of any of these please add by putting the category and your example  such as  expert: hear an expert talk about an animal


Professional Development:


–Students ask questions of the expert.
–The expert demonstrates a physical procedure or process such as stacking in PE.
–The expert runs sophisticated equipment for the class such as a scientist.
–The expert gives feedback on  students’ projects or work such an artist whose style the students used.
–The expert explains something  such as an animal at the zoo.
–The expert has students create a model to demonstrate a concept like flight.
–The expert walks students through a thinking process to develop an analysis skills such as analyzing a work of art.








Pre-Assessing a Videoconference for Student In-Depth Learning

Most educators plan a videoconference. They determine what they will do during the videoconference such as educator A reads a book and then educator B reads a book. However, they have nothing against which to measure their plan to determine the quality of the learning in a videoconference. Perhaps if they had a way to determine the quality of learning for their videoconference, they might want to make some modifications to improve the quality of learning.

When I do professional development on videoconferencing, we do a videoconference and then we evaluate it. The follow represents a part of the pre-assessment. Unfortunately due to publishing restrictions (I just written a chapter on assessment in videoconferencing which has been accepted in a videoconferencing book.) I cannot show the whole pre-assessment.

Videoconference mini assessment


I find that whenever teachers pre-assess a videoconference plan at least a few weeks before a videoconference, they make drastic changes in the videoconference. They raise the quality of learning dramatically once they are aware.

Do you pre-assess the videoconference plan and, therefore, improve student learning?







Fun or Learning: Your Choice in Videoconferencing

I recently watched a videoconference between two elementary schools. During the thirty minute videoconference, the educators only asked one question (a prediction one) to the students. The educator accepted about three answers and then moved on; probably the students responded for a total of about thirty seconds. So 30 seconds out of 30 minutes x 60 seconds = 30/1800 = 1/600 = 1% of student time.

Did they have fun? Sure, they did. The two educators commented on the fun factor.

A recent math study revealed that fun is not necessarily connected to learning; in fact, the more fun students rated math, the worse they did in math. The USA was in the middle range on this.

I do not think that it is an learning and fun is an either or situation but we have to insure that learning is the priority.


LEARNING ………………………………………….




Videoconferencing in education: Students, Administration, Faculty, Community


Collaborate with students in other schools who are working on the same learning project such as pollution.

Peer critique students from another school who are working on the same standard.

Share an expert ( a university professor may work with students from several schools)

Take a courses within the school district (one AP teacher for the 10 students in one school and 13 in another). Likewise, take a course with other districts. One Latin teacher for several districts.

Do research by videoconferencing with experts in their universities, labs, business, or museum

Join a cultural celebration such as a

Have an expert assess your project. A corporate business person can review ads created by art students

Practice your new language with people from that language area.

Teach a topic to students from another school (no need to travel or to limit where the students are)

Attend class even if hospitalized or at home.

Do portfolio reviews where the reviewers are there via videoconferencing. Same for science projects reviews.

Inquire about a college by interviewing with a recruiter and students from that university.

Interview for a job in business.



Have many district wide meetings through videoconference so faculty do not have to drive to other distant schools.

Special Education Diagnosis can be done with experts from one location talking to a student in another location.

Interview teacher candidates or future administrators

Meet with lawyer or contractors.

See student or faculty Board presentations when the students or faculty are in a far away school.


Professional Development:

Provide professional development from one site to all the schools within the district.

Have a virtual expert teach a professional development even though she lives on a different continent.

View sample lessons using a specific technique. Teachers can watch a classroom teacher as he/she actually teaches using the technique; after class they can talk with that teacher.



Can co-teach a course over two buildings. Build on the strengths of both teachers.

Ability to interact “face-to-face” with teachers of the same subject area to plan a common course, lessons or assessments.


Community Events:

Sister school or sister community exchanges

For large areas, have videoconferences to bring all the people together to discuss a topic or celebrate a special day.


Videoconferencing’s Purpose and Place in a Learning Unit

The educators’ academic purpose for videconference determines where the videconference fits into the learning unit:

an introduction to the unit
an activity during the unit
several activities during the unit
the main activity during the unit
the only activity in the unit
an end of the lesson summary
a follow up activity to the unit
and a special motivation.

So where do you place your videconference in your learning unit? Why is that an effective location? How does your assessment reflect that learning purpose?


Learning, Videoconferencing, and Assessment: Part 2

Several people emailed me about my previous blog. They disagreed with my views:

Their points and my response:


1) Videoconference learning does not need to be assessed since it is simply one activity in a bigger unit. My response: How can you proceed in the students’ learning if you do not know what they have or have not learned? Madeline Hunter was famous for her “monitor and adjust” as critical part of the learning process before students could move on in their learning. Frequent embedded assessment is a major issue in education now.


2) The students’ discussion during the videoconference shows that they understand the topic. My response: How did you assess the students’ individual comments and questions during the discussion? Did everyone participate? At what higher level of thinking? Or did you get “a general feeling” about the understanding of the topic from those students that volunteered?


3) When students enjoy something such as the videoconference, they learn better. My response: I do not disagree that students enjoy videoconferencing. I want to see tangible learning results rather than just smiles. I have no problem with affective learning is that is the stated primary purpose of videoconferencing. How will you measure their emotional responses?


4) They learned so much about other students’ culture through the videoconference. My response: Wonderful. Was that a major goal of the project or did it just happen? If it was a major goal, than how did you structure the videoconference to increase global awareness? What cultural attitudinal changes did you want to happen?


5) They learned so much factual information. My response: Couldn’t they have learned the same amount through a good encyclopedia entry or an educational “movie”? I would hope that when we bring experts into the classroom, they can help our students to use higher level thinking skills in that topic.



Videoconferencing and Learning: Candy or Carrots

Candy or Carrots

Sweets or nutrition

Melting in mouth or crunching and chewing

Instant pleasure or body nurturing over time

Sugar high or slowly building up

Do educators see videoconferencing as candy or carrots?

I’m been researching articles and websites for some chapters I’m writing on videoconferencing. I found tons of candy: “My students really enjoyed it”, “They liked seeing the elephants”, and “My students learned a lot about videoconferencing.”

Only a few of the articles and websites even mention the carrots of learning. Occasionally, there are questions like “Did this videoconference meet your educational goals?” There are many general statements like “My student learned so much!” The detail or proof is very sketchy. “We predicted what would happen.” Did someone check each student’s prediction or did some students volunteer? Was a whole group assessment done?

Do educators in your educational institution use videoconferencing as candy or carrots?

How can you decide? Assessment is the key.

Do your educators assess the learning from the videoconference immediately or the next few days?

Do your educators have students do follow up performance tasks based on the videoconferencing? Do they assess those tasks?

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