21st century classrooms

I’ve just returned from a week of holidaying and relaxing. I was away from access to all technology and that was good. I enjoyed not going through my gmail, RSS feeds, email, Classroom2.0, twitter, blogs and online information. Now that I’m back, I’ve spent time sifting through these and getting caught up which, to my relief, really wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected it would be.

Before I left, I wrote a post about being able to partake in BLC virtually and wondered why our schools were not looking at this type of technology given that most schools have access to the technology and would be able to provide it with little effort. I also mentioned that I would be willing to pay a fee to attend virtually thinking that this would be more than Skyping into a session and include live video feeds and the like. Of course, I’d still be able to attend through the Skype option but would like to “see” what is going on and maybe participate live in the skypeforums or something similar.

Cathy Nelson at technotuesday has a good post regarding the whole idea of attending a conference and the issue of paying for such a thing. This made me think about schools and the whole idea of how we might be able to provide students with the opportunity to access classes. I did some inquiring about this with our IT and found that we would have a slight problem because of the limited bandwidth available through our network. Although it would not be impossible, it would cause a slowdown of the whole system while the Skype was in use.  This would possibly mean that, in order to provide such a service, we might have to have a dedicated line for this and it would then need to be covered through user fees. Is this a bad thing? I know many conferences that I have attended via the web have been without fees but they haven’t included streaming video or that “being there” feel for which I would be willing to pay a fee. For students who would like to choose another option other than attending classes, would it be unreasonable to charge a fee for services in order to cover cost? Or does this go against the idea of free public education? Of course, many schools charge fees for various educational activities so would this be any different?

In order to try this out, this year, I am going to be recording my Communication Production Technology class and offering it via podcast to another school. I will also be using a wiki for notes and information for the class. I am considering using video for a class or two, especially when it comes to some of the technical aspects where I will be demonstrating and then offering it in a similar manner as the podcast. I mean, the whole course is dealing with communication and technology and I want to use as many of the tools available so that students can have greater access to what we are doing. I taught the class last year and wasn’t happy with the results so this year I’m revamping the course and adding some different options for students. I want it to be as accessible as possible for students and parents so that everyone can see what we are doing.

For such a class, there really isn’t a need for the students off campus to join us but if it were and we needed to use a Skype in order for someone to attend the class, having that available for a fee would, I believe, be a viable option that would be worth the cost. I’m all for free use and free access but, sometimes, we need to realize that not all is for free and, for our learning, it would be worth the cost that we would have to put forth.  I enjoy being able to access SL, twitter and the rest for no cost but as we make the jump from where we are in schools to somewhere else, there may be a need to charge for some of the services considering we don’t want advertising and such to become part of what we are doing.

What do you think? As Christian commented on my last post

 as a new papa who has video access to his kidddo in daycare each day, I am already preparing to be blacked-out once he arrives in a traditional school that considers ‘parent teacher nights’ to be the equal of ‘access’ that I have n0w. Whether regular or semi-regular podcasts (or something more or less dynamic), I’d like to think that by the time my kiddo goes to kindergarten it will be possible for me to regularly ‘attend’ his classes from a distance.

Would it be out of line to charge a small fee for such things especially if there was live streaming video? As a parent, would you consider such things to be too much? I know as an administrator, I’d welcome the opportunity to have such things available for parents. There would probably be some legal aspects we’d have to work through but if parents could actually see what is going on in the class and see what their children are doing, it might deter some of the behaviours that keep popping up and maybe encourage educators to stretch.  It might also encourage students to act out, who knows. My point is that it would provide parents who are interested in their child’s education another opportunity to see what is actually going on, making education more transparent.  Besides, it would allow teachers to see what they are doing and assist them in their professional growth. Kind of like when teams review game tapes to see what they did well and where they need more work.

What are your thoughts? How would you feel as a teacher? What are the drawbacks? Is this even possible given the climate surrounding education at the moment?


  1. Reply

    Thanks for shining a good light on me form yesterday. I was feeling a bit like I had a knee-jerk reaction, even though I did wait 24 hours to post. You have raised some interesting concerns. Say, can I join in on your class?? In the virtual sense that is…I’m from South Carolina.

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