Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do Elephants Have Body Odor?

Today, I am slightly embarassed to admit, I participated in my first webcast. It was on of all topics, Tips for Integrating Videoconferencing into Your Classroom, with Doug Meyer from CILC. I went by the name "Integrating". Somehow I missed how to sign-in with my real name. However, I was not the only one, there were a few participants named "Tips for Integrating". Beside that gaffe I did rather well. I was very adept at smiley faces, applause, survey taking, and comments on the whiteboard. I actually enjoyed the webcast experience very much and saw more than a few familiar names participating. The webcast was a very basic introduction to videoconferencing. I think for the novice it was just putting their toes in the pool. But I liked how Doug Meyer covered the topic in just under one hour. I hope there is follow up for these participants in their schools or districts. I always feel that any videoconference PD needs a videoconference to really get the technology across. But I am more and more finding these web 2.0 applications to be exciting and engaging too. Since I personally have been using interactive videoconferencing for ten years now, you'd think "what new things can I learn from a basic intro?" But the truth is that even though I did it for the "webcast" I did pick up a few new ideas for both my students and teachers. That brings me to "Do Elephants Have Body Odor?"

Our first videoconference for the new school year was with
the Hall of Science. It was a wonderful program on the science of sports. Why do balls bounce? How does a surfer stay on the board? The program explores the science of sports through classroom activities and demonstrations from the Hall of Science sports challenge exhibit area and shows how most sports can be related through science. The students learned about gravity, velocity and reaction time. The presenter was a wonderful young man named Anthony who had the qualities of knowledge, enthusiam and patience which are all so important for a successful videoconference.

He engaged the students for the full 45 minutes through interesting demonstrations on the exhibit floor, hands-on materials delivered to the school and a lively exchange with the students. (Although I must note the majority of the verbal exchange were from the boys!). Now what does that have to do with elephants? Well you see the Hall of Science is less then 15 minutes from our school by car. So when Anthony came to our school today to say hi the excitement was palpitable. Not to mention the excitement in the class when I suggested a field trip to the Hall of Science to see the Sports Exhibit. Even though we are so close to the Hall of Science most of the class had never visited there. But the videoconference certainly whetted their appetite and got them thinking about the science behind the sports they love. But as Doug Meyer said, when you have the real thing, you should definitely go there and we will. But for all you out-of-towners I highly recommend the Hall of Science