Coordinating a Meaningful Classroom Video Conference
This Video Conferencing video shares an exemplar video conferencing collaboration between a local teacher and Monroe #1 BOCES. Here is a flow chart that also shows this process Use the suggestions from the video (below) to guide you in planning a meaningful learning experience:
Steps Towards a Successful Video Conference
- Align Curricular Connections
- Often seeking information from experts in a field can meet many curricular goals. Before embarking upon a video conference carefully weigh any curricular goals and seek out content providers who can meet help meet those goals.
- Contact Content Providers
- Content providers are experts, organizations or cultural organizations (i.e. - The George Eastman House, Baseball Hall of Fame, Holocaust Memorial Museum) that are willing to connect with teachers and students via video conferencing. Discuss your curricular goals with the content providers and be sure they understand how they might help you and what they need to provide to meet those goals.
- Contact Distance Learning Coordinator
- Some districts have personnel (a Distance Learning coordinator or technology specialist) that can help coordinate setting up your video conference experience. If you do not know who these people may be, contact your district's Instructional Technology department or Technology Coordinator. They will be able to assist you in arrange any payment and equipment needs/setup arrangements that you will encounter.
- They will also be able to put you in touch with the Distance Learning supervisor, technicians and Instructional Technology Specialists at your BOCES who are available to help coordinate your experience.
- Plan a Test Connection and Inform Students of Expectations
- Plan your test connection with the content provider and/or your BOCES to be sure the connections are acceptable for a quality experience
- As the video suggests, plan this test with students present as it is a good way to share with students how the technology works and to familiarize them with how the conference will transpire and "to get passed the novelty of the experience".
- This is also an ideal time to introduce and discuss video conferencing etiquette and expectations with students.
- Implement Pre-Conference Activities
- Plan activities that coincide with the curricular goals you have set and that provide background knowledge and terminology that students may need for the video conference.
- Facilitate the Video Conference
- Be familiar with how to work the video conference equipment to zoom and pan to students who are speaking. Be prepared to interject at times when conversations are slow as well as quell side conversations that may detract from the overall conference experience.
- Plan Post-Conference Activities
- Follow-up activities continue the conversations that took place during the video conference and allow students to ask questions relating to information they did not understand or did not have an opportunity to discuss.
There are many ways to use video conferencing to enhance learning and understanding. Below are a few suggestions, please review the Video Conferencing Resources section below for more ideas and to locate existing programs.
- Classroom to Classroom
- One great way to get started with video conferencing with no or minimal cost is to conduct classroom to classroom connections. Classroom to Classroom connections allow a set of teachers and students to work collaboratively without having to leave the classroom. So whether you are two minutes or two miles away you can communicate as if you were in the same classroom.
- Virtual Field Trips
- Many museums and cultural sites conduct virtual or electronic field trips of their sites and exhibits. These electronic field trips have a cost associated with them but are a fiscally responsible alternative to traditional traveling field trips.
- Ask an Expert
- A very popular way to seek more information or understanding is to ask an expert in the field of study. Teachers have sought scientists, politicians, authors, among others to bring their expert information into the classroom through video conferencing. Associated costs with this type of connections will vary.
Video Conferencing Resources
Video Conferencing Sites and Specific Programs
- Whirlidurb We provide quality video conference connections for Pk-8 grades that reinforce and develop mathematical language and communication, enhance 21st century skills of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration, and support literacy and vocabulary development.
- eLearning Collaborative from Monroe #1 BOCES
- Roots and Shoots
- Thousand and One Flat World Tales
- Global Education Collaborative Wiki
- Global Education Collaborative Flickr Group
- Global School Net
- Video Conferencing
- Center For Interactive Learning and Collaboration
- Historical Characterizations
- Library of Congress Videoconferences
- Knowledge Network Explorer
- TWICE.cc Two Way Interactive Connections in Education
- The Global Nomads Group
- Collaborative VC Wiki This wiki is a collection of educator-created templates and projects for collaborative videoconferences. Start by browsing the projects.
- The San Diego Zoo
- The Museum of Television and Radio
- Cincinnati Museum Center Science, Social Studies, Special programs including Professional Development programs for teachers are available.
- Videoconferencing on a Lim This blog was created by a teacher that is interested in connecting people through video conferencing.
- Baseball Hall of Fame - Thematic Units - The National Baseball Hall of Fame has 13 thematic units that meets a wide variety of standards in many content areas.
- MOTE Marina Programs Also know as Seatrek, MOTE offers high quality programs with a lot of interactivity between the host and participants.
Polycom VSX Setup
The buttons that you will most want to concern yourself with are:
- Call Button
- Once you have entered the number that you would like to dial you will press this button to make the call.
- End Call
- Once you have finished your conference you will want to press this button to end the call.
- Arrow Buttons
- Similar to a DVD remote when you are in a menu you use these buttons to navigate through the screens. When you are actually in a call you can use these menus to manipulate the camera.
- Home button
- Pressing this will return you to the main dialing screen. This can be helpful to get out of other menus prior to dialing a number.
- This button is important to know about. If you can't hear the other site this is the first thing that you want to check. Also you may be asked to turn down the volume if people are hearing echoes of your voice.
- When you are in a conference it is considered good practice to mute the volume when you aren't speaking.
- Zoom In and Out
- If you want to focus the camera on a specific thing or person you will want to use these buttons and the arrow buttons to direct the camera.
- Number Pad
- When you are actually dialing a number you will want to use the number pad to enter the number. Notice that above the number 3 there is a dot button. Most numbers that you will be dialing will look similar to this
Setting up the Unit
- The first is the connection between the speaker and the main unit, this cable (labeled 1) has the blue end.
- Now you will want to connect the microphone to the unit. This cable is a skinny black cable with a clear plastic connector on both ends, it connects to the slot third from the left (labeled 2).
- The next connection is to the network. This is a basic 10 based network cable which you connect to an active network drop (labeled 3).
- Now it is time to connect to the display that you will be using. Depending on what you will be viewing the conference from depends on which output you will want to use. You can use either S Video, Composite, or a VGA cable to connect to the Polycom. For S Video and composite video you will want to use the 2nd set of inputs from the left (labeled 4). These you will connect to the TV or projector that you are using. If you have a VGA cable connection you will have to make sure that this is plugged into the connection labeled 4a.
- The last connection that you will have to make is the connection form the speaker to the power cord. Once you have these five connections simply flip the on off switch on the right hand side of the unit on, and listen for the power on chime.
Note: Be aware that the video will only work with either the S Video and composite connection OR the VGA connection, not both.
Polycom ViewStation Setup
Viewstation 512 Model
This is the older of the two polycoms that we have in our districts. To connect this polycom the first thing that you want to do is place the view station in an area that will be able to capture the classroom view. Usually this is on top of the television or in an area that will cover the entire seating area.
The next step is to plug the polycom into the schools network. The cable that is plugged into your computer is the same as the polycom uses. Then you should plug in the
Now you are ready to turn the power on the polycom and television. Once you turn on the Polycom you should hear a chime and then see the Polycom logo appear. Next you will see the Main Call screen. There are three areas that are important to you. The first is the area titled Video Call this is what you want to select if you were dialing someone else. To the lower left is the Address Book which is available with numbers that you may call frequently. The area next to the address book normally would have an area labeled Your IP is: followed by a set of numbers and periods. This area would be your phone number for the polycom. So if you were having someone call you they would need this number.
To make a call select the Video Call section. The menus work very much like a DVD player menu. Once you have selected the call simply add the number that you want to dial. Periods in the number are added by using the right arrow button.
Starting a Video Conference
- Be sure the Polycom Unit is setup correctly and powered on.
- Press the Menu button on the remote control - a dial screen displayed will allow you to place your call.
- The video call portion will be highlighted in yellow, if not, use the arrow buttons on the remote to highlight video and press select.
- Use the number pad to dial the site to which you ar connecting (e.g. - IP Address: 10.1.5.253 NOTE: Use the number pad for numbers and the right arrow for dots.)
- Check the connection speed (384 unless otherwise instructed by a technical specialist) - if changes need to be made use the arrow buttons to navigate and then the select button.
- Press the Select button to place the call.
Remote Control Button Table
|1||Call Hang Up||Disconnects your call (green button)|
|2||Far Camera||Controls the camera at another site during a two-day conference|
|3||Slides||Reserved for future use|
|4||Select||Think of this as the enter button to make a selection|
|5||Volume||Adjusting incoming volume|
|6||Mute||Mutes your site so that no sound is being transmitted - you will see a symbol appear on the screen that your site (near) is muted|
|7||Info/Help||Diagnostic tool for technicians|
|8||Menu||Use this button to access the main menue screen|
|9||Zoom||Zoom in or out using this gray toggle button|
|10||Snapshot||Do not use|
|11||Arrow||Use the red arrow buttons to navigate in the menu screens|
|12||Auto Tracking||For small meetings, camera will track the voice of who is speaking|
|13||Near Camera||Controls camera at your site, Press twice if connecting a VCR or document camera|
Frequently Used Buttons
- Helps control the flow of audio and video and eliminate "cross-talk" between connected sites. Remember to un-mute when your site is speaking.
- Allows the flexibility to zoom in on people or objects - remember to zoom out afterwards.
- PIP (Picture in Picture)
- To show PIP (a view of your site or what others connected will see) simply pick up the remote control. To turn off PIP place the remote on a flat surface. Notice the two buttons on the underside of the device that activate when picked up or set down.
- For incoming volume check the volume controls on the Polycom unit, video projector and/or television monitor.
Quick Troubleshooting tips
- I can't hear anything?
- Make sure the volume is up on the television and the polycom unit.
- The remote site (whom you are connecting with) can not hear our end.
- Be sure the microphone is not muted. If the microphone button is lit red press it to unmute the microphone.
- I don't see any video?
- Make sure the projector is turned on.