Friday, November 7, 2008

Video Streaming for Professional Development

Video conferencing is not exactly new and innovative. It's been around for years but what is new is the way we've used it this week. We have the video conferencing equipment at our school because for several years now we have been sending live lessons to our professional development sight. One year we even sent lessons to an inner city school and debriefed the lessons together every other week. Last year we video streamed a lesson live to a national conference in Hollywood, CA! We have even video conferenced a few planning meetings with trainers at the Schultz Center, but for the most part, we have been on the giving end. Because we are so used to opening our classrooms to each other, teachers at Chets Creek have been willing to do the same thing to others in our county. We have long felt that we have a moral and ethical obligation to share what we do at the Creek so we have made staff available to help support the video streaming. It takes one person at our school to set up and run the equipment and then monitor while the lessons are being taught and another to just be there in case there is a problem with the children while the teacher debriefs with the class at the other end of the camera. Not only has our principal been willing to shuffle schedules to meet the needs of the video streaming but teachers have been willing to open themselves up - to be transparent, believing that to do so makes us all better. Can you imagine doing a lesson for 150 of the Literacy Leaders in your grade level from throughout the county? Our teachers do that regularly! One of the reasons that we have the equipment is because we have been so open and willing.

With all that said, we are now looking at ways that we might use this video conference equipment in other ways. This week, when we realized that we had 14 teachers who needed a training for ELL being offered by the Schultz Center, we asked about having it video conferenced to our school, if we were willing to provide the facilitators at our end. Although the Schultz Center trainers doing this particular training had never video conferenced, they were willing to give it a try and the session did take place very successfully. It certainly was a perk for our teachers not to have to travel for the training. You have to have a very forward-thinking and flexible administrator to put that together so easily!

We have mostly used this equipment for professional development and have only begun to look at possibilities for instruction. Melanie Holtsman collaborated with the museum last year video streaming a live lesson for her gifted students. Now we are looking at other places that might have the equipment so that we could do virtual field trips. How cool would that be! For instance, maybe first grade could visit the great barrier reef as they continue their study of Australia. Of course, it would mean having the kids come to school in the middle of the night for the experience because of the time differences, but that in and of itself might be lots of FUN!


Mrs. Snead said...

This, I have always throught, is such a wonderful way to make Duval County, and the world, a much smaller place!

Suzanne said...

This equipment really has made our work very transparent in our county. I'm so excited that this year, Melanie through the ning, has found a way to make our work visible to others around the globe, too. I am always so impressed with our teachers who so willingly give and am so glad that they had this opportunity, this week, to get something in return.