This week in our EDCI 336 class, we got to have a video conference with Ian Landy, who is a principal in Powell River, and has so much great information to share about technology in education, particularly in regards to assessment and e-portfolios. I found what he said about assessment very interesting and inspiring, and it makes me more eager to get into a classroom and use tools such as FreshGrade to provide ongoing, formative assessment to my students and their parents. I could go on to discuss more about this, but this post will be primarily focused on video conferencing as an educational tool.
For this class, we were not in our usual room, but a room that was built specifically for video conferencing, with two screens, cameras, and microphones permanently set up. It was a bit intimidating at first having the camera zoom in on me whenever I spoke, but it was a very intriguing setup.
Being able to have a guest speaker in our class who was hours away from us was really great, and it got me thinking about the possibilities for when I am teaching. I am sure that we would not have been able to hear from Ian Landy if it weren’t for video conferencing, but the convenience of speaking to a class from work or home made it possible. Thinking of who to invite as a guest speaker for a class becomes a much bigger question when you don’t have to consider the limits of how far a person might be, what their schedule allows for, or what it could cost to have them travel to where your class is. There are experts all over the world who could have a discussion with a class on what they’re learning. As a teacher, I will keep this in mind and consider what might be possible for the units and lessons I am teaching. There are many great YouTube videos of experts doing lessons for students, but it is a different experience when it is in real time and the students are able to have a discussion with the expert and ask them questions.
I don’t imagine I will ever have a classroom with the same setup as the video conference room at UVic, but even a webcam for a Skype call would work well. I have to admit, I was distracted a lot of the time by the screen showing the class, so I think I would even prefer not have that screen for a class of my own, to limit that distraction. No matter the type of classroom I have, or what equipment may be in the school for video conferencing, I will do my best to bring this technology into the classroom, as I believe it is an engaging way to enhance student learning.