Did you know you can open a Polycom Trouble Ticket online? You can also login and see the status of your tickets as well. Pretty cool. I know many of you have Polycom systems and maybe you know this already. I just learned it today and thought you’d want to know too!
Mark your calendar for Megaconference on November 8, 2007. The date was just sent out yesterday on the Megaconference listserv. This is the higher education, adult facilitated, original Megaconference that Megaconference Jr. (student facilitated) is modeled after. If you haven’t experienced a Megaconference, it’s an incredible experience.
Here are a few good strategies for bringing a Megaconference to your school.
- Have the event running in a central location so that classes can pop in and out.
- Print the schedule and share with teachers. However, realize that Megaconference is live and sometimes it gets off schedule a bit. So be flexible!
- Encourage students to study and celebrate the geography of the event. Have them map out the participants list. Keep a world map close to the videoconference system so students can look up the locations represented by the presentations.
Anyone else have some good strategies for making a Megaconference a successful learning event in your school?
Also in this newsletter was a feature on TANDBERG’s new FieldView product. It looks like a digital camera – but brings VC to the field. Very intriguing. I wonder how easy it is to get on a network. And would it work via a cable modem? Bandwidth and connectivity seem to be the big challenge of connecting on location.
This afternoon I hosted four one hour VC sessions with my schools to wrap up the year, reflect on how it went, and talk about next year. About 20 of my 70 buildings attended. I’ve never done any type of wrap-up before, but several of my new RUS Grant buildings wanted to hear from each other.
We used a very simple format: 20 minutes of sharing what went well; 20 minutes of sharing challenges; and 20 minutes of sharing ideas for next year. Here are some of my notes:
What Went Well
- Author interviews, ASK programs, Center for Puppetry Arts, Columbus Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, Read Around the Planet, MysteryQuest, etc.
- Scheduling and logistics within the school
- Bandwidth and picture quality
- Getting teachers interested in VC
- Technical issues related to test calls, and what to do when problems happen
Ideas for Next Year
- More provider showcases via vc
- A workshop for teachers via vc on how to use the ISD website
- More classroom to classroom projects
- Mock job interviews for high school
- Pen pals
- News teams connecting to each other
- More free things!
- Directory of the other building coordinators in the county
- Middle and high school science – something on the environment
- Refresher sessions for staff meetings in the fall
We had a good conversation. They enjoyed hearing from each other and realizing that other districts have the same challenges as they do. They picked up new ideas from each other as well. And my todo list is growing with new ideas of ways to provide support, training, and programming.
Other VC coordinators (Roxanne, Paul, and Andrea) have blogged about their end of the year celebrations. You’ll find them inspiring and more exciting than mine. So check them out too. What have YOU done to celebrate the successes of this year?
Today we have the second day of interviews with our Vietnam Veterans. Today’s Lest We Forget session is for high school students and students have prepared by studying the Vietnam War and in most cases watched our Lest We Forget video and prepared questions. The high school students have more in depth historical questions in addition to the questions about what it was like on a daily basis.
Yesterday and today we had some classes who prepared special expressions of appreciation for our veterans. These were very appreciated. At lunch today they were still talking about the kids yesterday who said, “thank you for your service.” One of the classes yesterday prepared this thank you poster.
This afternoon, Allendale High School and Methacton High School, PA, had students express their appreciation before they asked their question. The high school students were able to share their thanks in their own words vs. reading it off the card with their question. It was very moving for the veterans to hear these expressions of thanks.
Thank you to all the teachers who encourage students to express their appreciation via posters, comments, and thanks to all of our veterans!
If you didn’t catch this on Roxanne and Arnie‘s blogs, check out this little video clip of Distancelearningville. It’s a must-see experience! If YouTube is blocked at school, then watch it at home. Very funny! Enjoy the fruits of this Michigan-Texas collaboration!
One of the beauties of collaborating with other distance learning coordinators is that you learn new things to improve your practice! This year we’ve had several VCs with Roxanne’s schools in ESC Region 12. Roxanne works hard to have her schools display a sign showing their location. Here’s an example from our ASK: The Wall sessions today. It sure makes it easy to facilitate. I definitely want to work with my schools on this next year.
Today we are doing our first day of ASK sessions on the book The Wall. Middle school students are interviewing a panel of our local Vietnam veterans. Here is a sampling of their questions from today.
- How did you adjust to the different climate and culture in Vietnam?
- What was a typical day like for you?
- What encouraged you to be in the military?
- What did you excel in?
- Would you rather fight in Iraq today or back then in Vietnam?
- How and where did you sleep when you were in battle?
- What did you eat while you were there?
Some of the classes started their questions with, “Thank you for your service to our country. My question is….” The panel of veterans very much appreciated this little gesture from the students. You should have seen them beam as students started asking their questions. Even at lunch they were still talking about those respectful, well-prepared students!
Now that the school year is winding down, I’ve been reflecting on my use of my TANDBERG MPS MCU this year. Some of you have read my previous posts (one and another) on my TANDBERG bridge and so it’s time for a follow-up.
I Can’t Have It Both Ways
It struck me funny a couple weeks ago when I realized that I wanted the best of both worlds. I hope you can laugh at me with me. My previous PictureTel Montage bridge allowed me to have people to dial into different conferences by different numbers. So when I realized that the TANDBERG only let me have people dial in to conference 1 (see note below), I was frustrated with it. But recently I realized that it’s that same functionality that allows me to have a conference up and tell everyone to dial in and they just do. I don’t need their IP address. I don’t need to know their speed or any other weird specs or settings. They just dial in and the VC starts. What I’ve been frustrated about has also been a great blessing this year. Isn’t that funny?!!
It Doesn’t Fit My Paradigm
I learned a tiny bit about Joel Barker’s paradigm shift theory recently, and it dawned on me that my first year and a half of frustration with the Tandberg bridge was because it didn’t fit my paradigm! You can laugh at/with me on that one too! I couldn’t get it to work the way I needed it to and I was running so many programs that I didn’t have time to adequately figure out how to think like it does. I’m definitely making progress in this area, but I’m not there yet!
I’m Not Using It The Way It Was Designed
The TANDBERG MPS is set up to either have people dial into conferences based on the E.164 alias (by endpoints registered to the gatekeeper), or using a Single Dial In system that works similar to the way the Codian MCU does with the welcome menu, etc. Because of my obsession with having a conference that people can just dial an IP and get into (no extensions, no menus, etc.), we changed a setting on the bridge so that it has a default conference (conference 1).
Using it that way, I can’t use the Tandberg Management Suite because it randomly assigns conferences and I can’t force it into conference 1. (Although there are a couple new versions out since I last looked at it so I need to research this more.) If I was using it the way it was designed to be used, the Tandberg Management Suite would be perfect and would add lots more functionality than I currently get just using the web interface to the MCU.
So why don’t I use it that way? I still do a lot of programs with old units that can’t dial extensions or use the tone dialing to get into the right conference. I also still do VCs with schools that can only dial out. And I still have scenarios where my school calls me in a panic and we have to put it up on the bridge to make it work. Having the option for endpoints to dial in with just an IP address is still crucial to my practice. So… this summer I hope to spend some more time testing and researching, so I can learn how to think like my bridge thinks. This is an ongoing journey that’s by no means finished. But I think I’m growing in my understanding and that’s worth something!
If you’re in the market for an MCU, you need to look at all the sides, not just my little opinion here! Don’t just take my experiences shared here. I’m not a techie; just an educator with a knack for technology.
This afternoon Lincoln Elementary, St. Joseph, is connecting to Liberty Science Center for their Aquatic Ecosystems program. The program starts with a tour of the Liberty Science Center and the tanks they have with various aquatic ecosystems.
After an introduction of ecosystems, the students participate in an activity drawing an aquatic ecosystem from the side as if they were actually in it. The students’ drawings then lead into a discussion of the components of an ecosystem.
After discussing fresh and marine water ecosystems, students learn about the estuary and Hudson River where the Liberty Science Center is, and then they compared that estuary to where the St. Joseph River meets Lake Michigan. Note the green screen technology! Also look at the great images they shared of the St. Joseph River. It’s nice when the content provider can tailor to the local area too. They called the teacher ahead of time to find out what they were studying so they could tailor the program as requested.
Next, the students do an activity to look at cryptic camouflage and then try to guess what is hiding in several pictures.
This was our first program with the Liberty Science Center. While their programs are a little on the expensive side, the program is visually rich and can be tailored to exactly what the teacher needs.
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