There are no words that can properly describe the joy, giggles, and unbridled learning that takes place during a videoconference. You just have to experience it, and that’s exactly what I had the opportunity to do this morning. On my way to Advanced Googlology, I met Janine Lim in the hallway on the way to my session (fully decked out in her Cat in the Hat outfit) and couldn’t resist sitting in on her TWICE session. I’m glad I made the switch, because I got to see a videoconference between a fourth grade class from St. Joseph, MI and a Year 7 class in UK, Wales.
It was a special videoconference for the classroom in Wales as it was there very first experience with videoconferencing. The class from St. Joseph shared pictures from their lake-side town and included information about Michigan’s fruit-growing regions. They also performed several short poems for the kids in Wales. The classroom from Wales shared a very special song about rugby that they recently won a cultural competition with during an annual celebration.
The children then had time to ask questions of each other, share a few interesting facts about where they lived, and the Head Master in Wales even “crashed” the session so he could say hi to all of the kids in St. Joseph. Towards the end of the presentation questions were opened up to those of us sitting in on the session watching. Janine Lim asked the students in St. Joseph what they liked about videoconferencing (since they’ve done many of them). One of the students replied that they enjoyed being able to talk with other kids around the country and the world.
And that’s what videoconferencing is all about; showing learners the wider world. Talking about other places in textbooks and pointing out locations on a map will never garner the engagement or inspire like the live video and audio interaction that videoconferencing provides. Today those students will go home and be able to tell their parents “we learned from kids in the UK today” instead of just, we learned about kids in the UK today. A much more powerful learning experience was witnessed today, and I’m personally inspired to begin pursuing grants and/or money to startup videoconferencing in my district.