Video over IP in the Classroom

Today I had a meeting but we weren’t in the same room when we met. This shouldn’t sound like a strange sentence in this day and age. Video conferencing has been around for a good few years now. I remember while working as a teacher in 2002 in Tallaght being part of a video-conference over an ISDN line between two primary schools. Every child was engaged.

It’s a bit disheartening eight years on and with every school with a Broadband connection that this type of connectivity isn’t part of the norm. Technology has moved on to such a degree that now there’s no need for any software to be installed on computers in order to set up a video conferencing session. It’s also excellent quality and very fast.

My virtual meeting with Joe Garde from gave me a demonstration of what can be done these days and left me with dozens of ideas of how this technology could be used in the classroom. Apart from simply talking to each other using the web cam and microphone, now one can share files and web links, type notes and “write” on a virtual whiteboard amongst other things. Best yet, with simply a reasonably good Internet connection, up to 16 people can meet at the same time. OK, even better than best yet, if you have an Interactive Whiteboard, not only is your screen image going to be a hell of a lot bigger, you can also interact with other participants by touching the board!

So it’s led me to think about linking up schools using this technology for regular meetings. Wouldn’t it be cool if a few schools showed each other some science experiments? How about if schools from different parts of the country met regularly to give an update on what’s going on in their area? What about two schools of different denominations comparing their religious practices? What about a collaborative project over a period of time where schools update each other on progress?

The possibilities are endless.

So… if anyone is interested in setting up a project with me, I’m all ears. Joe has very kindly offered to host our web conference and he will even record our sessions for us. I’m looking forward to writing more about this service and hope that schools will take it up too.

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