Thursday, March 23, 2006

Producing Your Own Content

Here is another reason to add to the list of why videoconferences get cancelled "the teachers are taking strike action and they are having to shut the school that day, so the videoconference won't be able to take place". (For other reasons go to:
I awoke to read this "urgent news" of the impending strike from our London partners. We had been planning a videoconference for months between our classes in New York and classes in London as part of WebPlay. WebPlay is an internet-based arts education project that links children from around the world to learn about theatre and each other. Our videoconference was going to be a sharing of what the children had written so far and a discussion of how to improve the writing in order to more realistically portray the sister cities. Our NY students wrote plays that take place in London while the London students write plays that take place in NYC.
Developing this videoconference was no easy feat. First we had to resolve the technology issues. The England schools use a web cam software "Click 2 Meet" and we use a Polycom with an H.323 protocol. My "mixed technology trials and tribulations" are clearly documented in previous posts. After successfully crossing that hurdle we had to write a lesson plan that would meet the objectives of what the videoconference hoped to accomplish. Of course you have to schedule the videoconference after consulting with the dozen or so people you are ccing in these cross Atlantic e-mails. The WebPlay people, the school coordinators, the teachers, the tech people and so on. Then with a little luck you hope the vc doesn't get cancelled.
Developing your own content is not an easy route to travel. Next week I am hoping to do a vc that has been in the works for several months with the National Weather Service. Again I worked on this from scratch, No cake mix for me. First I tried to find a meteorologist. Then the technology. Then the objectives, what do the children want to know? What do they know already? Then the schedules (school vacations, meteorologist business trips, school testing etc.) Today is Thursday, the conference is next Wednesday. Will there be a metorologist strike? Fortunately it's not hurricane season. I'll keep you posted.
Producing your own content, a true videoconferencing adventure!

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