The Distance Learning Team at Region XIII ESC is coming off of a successful week long, collaborative learning experience during which a group of teachers from a variety of districts and schools were immersed in the world of interactive video conferencing. Not only did teachers attend, we also had librarians, campus technology integration specialists and even representatives from a community music school that is venturing into the world of providing music classes and performances to students across the region through video conferencing technology.
This diverse and energetic group collaborated with other teachers across Texas and New York to develop, plan, and promote engaging, interactive classroom lessons spanning multiple subject areas. While developing these lessons, participants received hands-on instruction on how to use a variety of video conferencing technologies. These technologies ranged from user-friendly software that gives a laptop or mobile device the flexibility to act as an interactive video conferencing device, to more robust room-based systems which enabled participants to share their computer screens with their fellow collaborators at remote sites to help facilitate the brainstorming process and flow of ideas.
Some highlights of this event were several presentations from a wide selection of established content providers that specialize in offering a myriad of virtual field trips and interactive experiences. These content providers offer interactive opportunities for students of all age levels and in almost all subject areas. The offerings from these content providers include simulated natural disasters in which students have to work together using classroom knowledge to save lives and cross-cultural discussions bringing together students from around the world to discuss current events and find mutual understanding. There was also a discussion with Vietnam veterans and active duty soldiers in which they shared their experiences overseas and upon their return as well as the lessons learned.These opportunities helped to illustrate the vast potential for utilizing video conferencing to enrich classroom learning experiences for students.
The most common reaction from participants was, “Wow. We had no idea you could do that.” Ideas were planted, connections were made, and imaginations were kick started for presenting materials, lessons and experiences in new, engaging and ways. Another “A-ha” moment was the realization of the many ways the Distance Learning Team at Region XIII ESC can help teachers put these ideas into action by facilitating collaborations and helping organize and monitor virtual field trips.The team can also live stream student performances and ceremonies making it possible for friends and family members around the world to share the experience when they’re unable to attend.
Please contact the Distance Learning Team if you’d like to learn more about how we can help bring the world to your classroom.