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A New Videoconferencing Model (well not so new)

Videoconferencing equipment is expensive, but it is more costly to keep them in a closet. A few boards in Ontario have invested thousands of dollars in order to carry out meetings or have administrators in remote schools talk to each other via videoconference. But there is a better model for distributing this technology to benefit students directly.

When multimedia projectors were first on the market they were hard to get. There were a few around, but you would have to beg to borrow it or travel to some far-off place to pick one up. Now they seem much more prevalent in schools. You see it at staff meetings, meet the teacher nights, student presentations, even the occasionally classroom movie. It is more commonplace.

So if videoconference equipment is like the multimedia projectors of the past, how can we improve on the model?

Well the idea isn’t revolutionary. Give the videoconference equipment to the classroom teachers and watch what happens. Purchase equipment specifically for the purpose of using it in the classroom, then create a plan for getting it in the classroom.

If we can get the technology in the hands of innovative teachers and start a borrowing model and use it to set up presentations with remote sites, we can provide unique educational experiences for our students. This would require some interdepartmental partnerships to develop at the school board level, getting the equipment delivered to the school, setup, testing the connection, and then carrying out the conference.

Just like the multimedia projector, it could be more common to see purchased at the school level. As educators become more confident using videoconferencing as a learning tool, the idea of connecting to resources half way around the world will become commonplace. An educator doing a unit on Australia could connect to the resources that they need by bringing the Melbourne Zoo to the students.

You can find a large database of remote sites with educational content that can be used in your classroom at the Polycom Website.

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