Sunday, May 06, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here

Yesterday I finished the last session of an "Integrating Videoconferencing Into the Classroom" for a group of teachers in Brooklyn, NY. All the workshops were suppose to be for the same group of teachers but that was not always the case. Some teachers did participate in all five trainings but there were also new teachers joining along the way as well as some drop-outs. This is also not the Region in NYC that I work in but I was hired as a consultant. The first workshop was an overview and introduction to videoconferencing. The next two we did a Mini Jazz. Here we collaborated with a group of teachers in El Paso Texas via videoconferencing for two Saturdays in a row. In March we worked on developing specific videoconferencing lesson plans. The teachers created pre and post activities and used the various videoconferencing databases to search for appropriate programs. Yesterday I titled the agenda "It's a Wrap" I hoped to tie together loose ends as well as help them to develop a plan for "where do we go from here". We covered their roles of providing "turn-key" training to their colleagues as well as getting the support they need for their videoconferencing programs. They also shared their successes and failures. These were schools that had videoconferencing equipment for almost 3 years but had never used the equipment. I was not sure what to expect. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

The first school shared a video of a conference with 5th graders and the San Diego Zoo on "Animal Classification". They also had posted parts of the videoconference on a Thinkquest website some of the students had created. In addition they were planning a videoconference with NASA fo a group of 2nd graders and they will be sharing that program with a like group of 2nd graders from New Mexico. Another teacher shared that he had videoconferenced with his El Paso "Mini Jazz" partner. They did a couple of programs and shared some poetry as well as some facts about each other and their cities. As each teacher shared their accomplishment, no matter how small, I realized that they were on the road to providing their students with wonderful videoconferencing experiences.
As a staff developer, especially this year, where I am not working as a full time distance learning coordinator. I am not in touch with what is happening in the many schools with their videoconferencing equipment. It always makes me smile inside when I get an e-mail from a former workshop participant, like the one I got from a school media specialist who wrote "It has been a great year....especially in videoconferencing. I have had much success .... I spoke to my principal who very much would like to expand videoconferencing. This is "music" to my ears.