Video conferencing is a great way to bring the wonders of the world, right into your  very own classroom.   Think about it!  Your class probably can’t afford to take a field trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, or the Smithsonian Institute, but both of these amazing experiences are available to students through the power of video conferencing.  Not only are  museums, zoos,  and other content providers eager to connect to your class, classrooms down the street or around the world are ready to connect with your class as well!  Our district is lucky enough to have  video conferencing carts available on every elementary and secondary campus.  These high-tech carts are simple to use, and ready to roll!  How can you take advantage?  Here’s some quick tips to get you started…

What can I video conference about?

The answer to that is pretty much anything you want!  Since it’s simple to connect with another campus in district, activities such as an “EPSE Challenge”, “Monster Exchange” or “I’m not a Turkey” are popular.  Collaborate with a teacher you already know in the district, or meet someone new by posting your video-conferencing idea in an LCISD edmodo Community.  Since you’re both following the same curriculum, your lesson needs should be simple to align.

Ready to broaden student horizons?   Organizations such as NASA, the Houston Zoo and thousands of other content providers have lesson ideas and presentations created and ready to go.  Some content is “view only” which means your class can simply watch what’s going on.  It’s like having your very own reality TV channel!  Imagine being able to give your class the opportunity to watch the launch of a rocket, or open-heart surgery in real-time.  Amazing, right? Most content is interactive rather than “view only” so that your class can ask questions, and actually talk to the folks on the other side of your video conference.

Check out our video conferencing resources page to begin your search for a content provider.

Having trouble finding a conference that matches your needs?  Create your own video conferencing activity and post it on CAPspace!  CAPspace allows you to not only search for, but also post your own video conferencing ideas so teachers around the world can view and connect with you if they are interested.

Preparing for Your Conference

As the day of the video conference approaches, there are steps that should be taken in preparation for the call.  Check out our Video Conferencing Tips.

 

Quick Connect

As I said before, we are very lucky to have the equipment at our disposal.  There are many schools that are not as lucky, but don’t let that stop you from making a connection!  If you find someone you would like to connect with but they don’t have VC equipment, never fear!  Skype for Education is here!  Skype allows anyone with a free Skype account, webcam, and reliable internet connection to connect to other Skype users around the world – all for FREE!  Check out Projects on Skype and start planning your connection!

Where to Begin?

Your first step for a successful video conference  is to contact your CITS.  Our team is eager to help you get started.  We can help you search for video conferencing opportunities, help you get comfortable using the equipment, and even try to schedule your first VC experience so we’re there to help as a guide.  Once you have a conference or two under your belt you’ll be comfortable enough to jump into the VC pool of opportunity on your own…it’s that easy!