Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When There Isn't Enough Class Time

The following is a guest post from South View Middle School Government Teacher, Claude Sigmund. Claude needed a way to present and chat with his AP Government students outside of class, and we decided it was the perfect time to use WebEx, a video conferencing tool that we had recently purchased. Up until this time, we had only used it to present professional development to staff, but we thought there would be times, especially at the secondary level, where teachers could use it for help sessions with students outside of the school day. I like that the teacher can present, include video of themselves, have a backchannel chat as well as audio and video with the students, AND it all can be recorded for playback if students couldn't attend. Here are Claude's thoughts about the experience. 

My teaching time was cut short.  With a retreat, NWEA MAP testing and the Education Minnesota Conference,  I was only going to see my kids 2 times in three weeks.  This is ridiculous!

The kids still need to continue learning.  I began posting assignments on Moodle to keep the learning moving forward.  However, my AP students began saying that the material was moving a bit too fast and they needed some help to explain what we were covering.

Thus a new experiment was had. I taught on-line using WebEx.  I put together, a presentation, links to web sites and set up a time for kids to meet me on line.

I logged in at 7:40.  Set up a welcome screen and returned at 7:55.  The kids and I were a bit giddy.  It was cool.  We did some group sharing and learning for the first 5-10 min.  Then I muted their mikes and had them use the chat feature as a back channel.

As I talked I would answer questions from the students and was stunned by the caliber of the back channel.  Students were not only helping one another, but they were interpreting data, asking GREAT questions and actually furthering my presentation.  

At times I would pause and ask a question or put up a graphic for interpretation.  I would then un-mute a student and let them chat.  The hour FLEW by.

I asked the kids if it was worth the hour and there was a HUGE consensus that it was very much worth the time and were looking forward to other on line experiences.

It was so positive for me that I plan on using it for:

1. Test review
2. special help sessions for highly difficult concepts
3. If we have another rash of absences etc.

I would say that most teachers could benefit from this great learning experience for both the students and for their teacher.

Thanks, Claude! It's a great example of "learning beyond the classroom walls" that has been part of our district strategic plan. For staff in our district interested in trying out WebEx, or someone outside the district interested in learning more, feel free to contact me and I can assist you in getting started. 
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