Video-Conferencing in the Classroom Results of the Online T by yqs46995


									       “Video-Conferencing in the Classroom”: Results of the Online Teacher Survey

           Prepared by: Anne-Marie Livingstone, CLC Evaluation Coordinator, in collaboration with
    Nicolas Lecomte and Anissa Adouane from the “Université de Québec à Montréal,” and with input from
                  Paule Langevin, Michelle Fontaine and Craig Bullett of the CLC Project.

In March 2009, the CLC project invited teachers in the 22 CLCs to participate in an online survey on the
video-conferencing network (VCN) in classroom teaching. The objectives of the survey were to: gather
feedback from teachers on the training and technical support offered, learn how teachers have used the
VCN in the classroom, identify the benefits and challenges associated with the technology, and obtain
recommendations that will enhance the CLC project’s attempts to support the integration of the VCN into
classroom teaching. A total of 31 teachers responded to the survey; however, it was only possible to use
responses from 25 questionnaires, because several were left incomplete.

Profile of Respondents                                  Feedback on the CLC Project’s Support for
The profile of the 25 respondents suggests that         the VCN in the Classroom
the VCN appeals to a broad range of teachers.           The survey reveals that teachers in CLCs who
There is considerable variation among teachers          have used the VCN have become fervent
in terms of their years of experience, academic         believers in the technology’s potential as a
subjects, and types of schools. A higher                teaching tool. Their comments regarding the
proportion of primary teachers than secondary           impact of VCN sessions on students indicate
teachers completed the survey. Whether this             that they have found it effective in promoting
reflects the greater use of the VCN by primary          student engagement and learning in the
teachers due to factors such as the curriculum          classroom. One teacher even went as far as to
or the available supply of activities is unclear.       suggest that all teachers should receive training
This result could also reflect the backgrounds of       on the VCN.
teachers who were reached by the survey
and/or who participated in the training.                The Training & Technical Support

•     Nine respondents teach exclusively at the         Teachers were generally quite satisfied with the
      primary level and another three teach only at     training offered by the CLC project. However,
      the secondary level. The other 13                 they also recommended that future sessions
      respondents teach a mix of grades,                should be longer and more in-depth in order to
      including kindergarten, primary and               allow teachers to learn more about available
      secondary.                                        VCN activities and to practice using the
•     The background of respondents shows: 24%          technology. The CLC training sessions were
      had less than five years of teaching              designed to give a first introduction to the field of
      experience; 44% had 5-14 years of                 “educational video-conferencing.” This feedback
      experience; 28% had been teaching for             suggests that the training has succeeded in
      more than 15 years.                               giving teachers sufficient motivation and ideas to
•     A little more than half of the teachers (n=13)    begin using the VCN in their classrooms.
      have been working in the CLC for less than
      five years. The remaining 12 teachers have        •   The majority of teachers (n=22) indicated
      spent five to more than 15 years in the CLC.          that they were fairly satisfied with the
•     The majority of teachers, or 52%, teach               training offered by the CLC project. When
      three or more subjects. In addition, 16% of           asked to indicate to what extent the training
      respondents teach English and Math                    was successful in familiarizing them with the
      combined, and 20% teach only French. The              technology, eight answered that it was
      remaining three teachers specialize either in         “considerably” successful and 14 said it was
      math, technology or the arts.                         “moderately” successful. Only three
                                                            indicated it had been “minimally” successful.

October 2009 – Report of the teacher survey on video-conferencing in the classroom                 1
•   The aspects of the training that teachers            had not used it said they planned to do so
    found most useful were: a) discussions on            in the future.
    how to integrate the VCN into the                •   The teachers who used the VCN the least
    curriculum; b) the information provided on           frequently or not at all were more likely to
    websites, content providers, and other               have attended training sessions during
    collaborative projects.                              2008-09. This suggests that “time” is an
•   The suggestions that teachers gave for               important factor in influencing the adoption
    improving the training fell into two main            of the VCN. Indeed, when teachers were
    categories: a) more information on the               asked to identify factors that would inhibit
    range of possibilities for using the VCN             other teachers from using the VCN they
    and step-by-step procedures to                       most frequently identified “time” and
    organizing and holding a VCN session                 “experience with ICTs and the VCN.” The
    (e.g., list of websites and content                  costs associated with activities also came
    providers, and sample lesson plans for               up as a third important factor.
    specific subjects), and b) a longer and          •   The main reasons that teachers gave for
    more hands-on training workshop that                 using the VCN were: “to increase student
    includes elements like “more practice with           motivation and engagement” (52%); “the
    the VCN,” “more concrete examples of its             availability of an activity” (52%); and “to
    use” and more “pre-presentation guidance             enrich the curriculum” (44%).
    and instruction.”
•   The 23 respondents who said they would           The survey indicates that respondents
    be interested in attending a future training     perceive the VCN as a beneficial teaching tool
    session selected two key themes: “how to         and many have used it several times since
    plan curricula with the VCN” and “effective      participating in the training. However, practical
    ways to teach with the VCN.”                     constraints like “time” may prevent teachers
•   The types of technical support that              from making greater use of the technology.
    teachers said they would like to continue
    receiving are: a) IT support or support from     Challenges
    the CLC Coordinator, b) information on           • A total of nine respondents indicated they
    schools around the globe with VCN                   had either “rarely” or “never” encountered
    capabilities, c) a list of websites and             technical problems in using the VCN.
    content providers organized by grade                Another nine teachers indicated that they
    level, subject matter and with a rating             faced problems “sometimes.” Only one
    system, d) individual support in preparing          teacher said it was “frequently.”
    for and conducting a VCN session,                • Technical problems, such as poor
    particularly when it is the first time.             connectivity or visual and sound quality,
                                                        were only rarely cited as having affected
Nearly all of the teachers who responded to             the effectiveness of a VCN session. In
the survey said that they would like both to            general, teachers report that the VCN is a
participate in follow-up training and to continue       simple and easy technology to use.
receiving assistance in identifying and planning        Despite this, technical problems cannot be
for VCN activities in the classroom.                    ruled out given that over 1/3 of
                                                        respondents faced difficulties at least
Adoption of the VCN                                     “sometimes.” Moreover, the data indicate
Since the training sessions began in 2007,              that teachers often turned to someone else
teachers in CLCs appear to be using the VCN             to resolve problems. Of the 17 teachers
to an increasing degree. It is also encouraging         who reported difficulties, nine turned either
to note that most teachers have encountered             to the CLC Coordinator or an “IT
few problems in using the VCN.                          technician” for assistance.
                                                     • Respondents did not cite technical
•   A little over 50% of respondents used the           problems as a major obstacle. The main
    tool between “3-5 times” or “5 times or             challenges they identified were “time to
    more” since participating in the training           plan and prepare activities” and the
    (n=13). Another six used it once or twice,          affordability of content providers. In
    and six did not use it at all. All of the           addition, one teacher spoke of the difficulty
    teachers who have used the VCN said                 of engaging students effectively in a
    they would continue using it. Those who             session that was being conducted for the
                                                        firs time. Fortunately, this kind of challenge

October 2009 – Report of the teacher survey on video-conferencing in the classroom              2
    can be easily overcome with adequate             Positive Aspects of the VCN as a Teaching
    preparation and training. Another teacher        Tool:
    remarked that s/he was disappointed with         Teachers report that the VCN has had clear,
    the quality of some content providers and        positive impacts on teaching and student
    recommends that a rating system be               learning. Their responses indicate that the
    established.                                     VCN is beneficial in several important ways:

Although the VCN is a technology that                The VCN offers new and exciting
teachers find relatively easy to use, they may       possibilities for teaching and learning:
still need access to technical support when          Teachers remark that the VCN offers an
difficulties arise.                                  interesting and innovative alternative to the
                                                     standard methods of teaching, such as
Activities Implemented with the VCN                  textbooks and the internet. The interactive and
As shown below, the two most common                  visual nature of the technology also appears to
activities that teachers implemented with the        heighten students’ interest in a given topic. As
VCN were “virtual field trips” to museums or         one teacher described, “it (the VCN) brought a
other educational sites (e.g., Biosphere), and       dynamic element into the curriculum. Yes, they
exchanges with outside experts. The next most        (the students) were writing but writing for
common activity was a collaborative project.         someone across the world brings a different
Several teachers implemented collaborative           sense of motivation.” When asked to describe
projects with schools in other Canadian              the most valuable aspect of the VCN for
provinces and in other countries, including the      students, one teacher responded, “meeting
United States and as far as Hong Kong. In            new people and being able to get answers
addition to classroom activities, a few teachers     from them right away. It also gives them a
used the VCN to participate in professional          new way of presenting information.”
development sessions.
                                                     The types of activities available through the
Table 1: Types of activities implemented             VCN can complement and enrich the
In what ways have you used        Number of          curriculum: Teachers have found that VCN
the VCN?                          times              sessions help them enrich the content and
                                  used               delivery of the curriculum. According to one
Virtual field trip and/or content                    teacher, “it enriched what they (the students)
provider                          16                 had already learned about extreme weather
Collaborative project             7                  when we studied it in class.” Another teacher
                                                     indicated, “it is interactive and allows you to
Professional Development          5
                                                     bring specialists into the classroom to help you
Other (workshop for students)     1
                                                     teach different topics.”
Total                             29
                                                     The VCN may enhance students’
                                                     appreciation of the real world applications
Exhibit 1: Examples of Activities                    of their learning: Teachers remark that VCN
                                                     sessions with content providers enable
Exchanges with experts:                              students to study the applications of the
! Discussion with a scientist at the Canadian        curriculum in the real world. As one teacher
  Space Agency                                       described, “the VCN opens the world for them
! Talk on the environment with a specialist at       so that they can see that the knowledge they
  the Biosphere                                      are acquiring extends beyond the boundaries
! Presentation by a health educator on “sexual       of the classroom or textbook.” Or, as another
  health.”                                           teacher described, “they see the application of
                                                     your subject in the outside world.”
Examples of virtual field trips:
! Visit to a museum in Cleveland in the United       The VCN can promote student engagement
States (US).                                         in the classroom: The VCN is a medium that
! Discussion on tessellation with a US               can promote a higher and more open level of
museum for an enriched math class                    student participation in class. As one teacher
! Visit to a dinosaur museum and discussion          expressed, “the interaction between the
on the rainforest.                                   student and provider makes it exciting and
                                                     therefore engaging to the student!” A few

October 2009 – Report of the teacher survey on video-conferencing in the classroom             3
teachers also pointed out that all students              difficulties, they were anxiously waiting to
participate during VCN sessions. They                    see their friends in Hong Kong. Other
indicated that the technology is one that is             video-conferences went very well with ALL
accessible and interesting to all kinds of               students being engaged in learning!”
students, regardless of ability or skill. Another
teacher remarked that the technology may be          Perceived Impact of the VCN on Students
particularly effective at engaging students who
are less inclined to participate in class, as she    Teachers indicate that VCN sessions have had
expressed, “it is a different way to present         significant positive impacts on student
information that might engage students who           motivation, engagement, and learning.
would otherwise not be reached.”
                                                     The VCN allows for direct contact with experts,
The VCN helps students to learn and retain           speakers, and groups of peers. The positive
more from a classroom lesson: Teachers               impact of this kind of exchange cannot be
claim that VCN sessions have the potential to        underestimated, even if participants are
enhance students’ capacities to retain               located some distance from each other
information and to learn. This is probably           (BECTA, 2004). Quotes from teachers indicate
particularly true in VCN sessions that depart        that the contact over the VCN may even be as
from the standard lecture and embody the best        powerful as a face-to-face exchange. One
features of an engaging pedagogy (e.g.,              teacher reported that as a result of an activity,
interactive conversations between students           her/his students “felt empowered to help the
and experts, real-life applications of learning).    environment.” Another one remarked,
                                                     “students were well engaged and took notes of
The VCN enables students to participate in           their own accord! They were so interested. To
enriching activities that would otherwise be         be able to ask questions and have them
inaccessible due to cost and/or distance:            answered by the person was wonderful.”
The VCN allows teachers and students in
CLCs to take advantage of educational                Conditions for Success
programs and opportunities in English that are       Teachers were asked to identify the factors
located outside the community and often in           that will ensure a successful integration of the
remote locations. Below are just a few of the        VCN into teaching. Their responses indicate
quotes illustrating this role of the VCN:            that “teacher training and professional
                                                     development” is considered to be the most
-   “It's a great way to enrich the curriculum in    important factor, followed closely by “funding to
    the schools without even going anywhere.”        pay for VCN activities.” Other factors like time,
-   “Being able to visit places without all the      pedagogical support and materials, and
    costs involved in an actual field trip.”         examples of VCN activities were also ranked
                                                     as being either “very important” or “important”
The VCN gives students the opportunity to            by a significant proportion of respondents (24
meet and exchange with peers in other                of the 25).
communities and to form unique cross-
cultural friendships. Collaborative projects         The findings suggest that no single factor
and exchanges between students from                  alone may be sufficient to ensure that teachers
different schools can broaden and enhance            successfully adopt and incorporate the VCN
students’ understanding of other communities         into their standard practice. A combination of
as well as their own. Below are quotes from          factors such as technical support, funding, and
teachers that illustrate this view:                  professional development may be needed over
                                                     a period of time.
-   “It opens a child’s imagination and allows
    them to experience and learn about
    different cultures.”
-   “It opens new worlds to students who may
    never get the chance to see the world.”
-   “They interact with peers outside the
    community and by extension, their comfort
-   “The activities had a positive impact on
    students. Even when there were

October 2009 – Report of the teacher survey on video-conferencing in the classroom             4
Exhibit 2: Findings from Research                     The role of principal support
According to one study, the keys to a                 Contrary to what might be expected,
successful integration of the VCN into K-12           respondents did not identify the role of the
education include (Anderson and Rourke,               principal as being a critical factor either in their
2005, p.14):                                          own adoption of the VCN or as a factor that
                                                      would help or hinder other teachers from using
!   Training and support for teachers and             the VCN. Observations of the VCN project in
    other school-based personnel                      CLCs indicate that principals may play an
!   A leadership vision that emphasizes the           especially important role during the start-up
    benefits of the technology to learning            phase, when it is time to introduce teachers to
!   Easy access to the VCN technology                 the technology and to build “buy-in.” However,
!   Simplicity in operation of the equipment          the survey data suggest that once teachers
!   A clear understanding of the costs and            have sufficient training and information, they
    learning effectiveness of the technology          may feel confident and autonomous enough to
!   Development of appropriate instructional          use it on their own and with little administrative
    designs                                           support. In spite of this, the role of principals
!   Effective interaction between and among           will always remain important, especially in
    students and teachers                             establishing a supportive environment for
!   Capacity to match class schedules,                teachers to use the VCN.
    timetables, and curricular goals across
    VCN sites                                         The long-term future
!   Development and implementation of                 The integration of the VCN in classroom
    effective etiquette and behavioural               teaching is likely to continue increasing over
    management in the classroom                       time. The proportion of teachers who
                                                      responded to the survey may only represent a
                                                      small number of those who are actually using
In their responses to the questionnaire,              the technology in CLCs. The following
teachers offered examples of effective                quotations reflect this potential:
practices they had developed or identified:
                                                      -   “I think that in time we will use the VCN
1) Using the VCN to enrich an aspect of the               more and more. Once you realize how
   curriculum and not to teach a subject from             much it adds to your student's
   “A to Z.” A couple of teachers spoke of                understanding of the subject and you
   how they used the VCN to enrich what                   realize the time it would take you to gather
   students had previously learned in a math              and present the material, you realize that
   and science class, for example.                        the time spent is well worth it.”
                                                      -   “The VCN is such a wonderful teaching
2) Taking time to adequately prepare                      tool and I wish I had more opportunities to
   students for a VCN session, especially                 use it.”
   when it is their first time. For example,
   teachers remarked that it can be                   Conclusions
   challenging to run a smooth VCN session            The results of the survey are very
   when students are unfamiliar with the              encouraging, even though they might reflect
   technology and the etiquette for                   the views of teachers who are the most
   communication, e.g., taking turns to speak         engaged and supportive. It shows that with a
   or pausing between comments. Thorough              little support, teachers can become active
   advance preparation for teachers and               users of the VCN in the classroom and that the
   students greatly enhances the quality of           technology offers many opportunities to enrich
   the experience.                                    the classroom curriculum and students’
                                                      learning experiences.
3) Creating pre and post-VCN exercises to
   help students process and build on the             This survey and other research indicate that
   lessons learned, as one teacher explained,         incorporating the VCN into classroom activities
   “it is better when there is written work to fill   requires some degree of advance planning
   out during interactions and post                   and preparation (BECTA, 2004), which may be
   conference quizzes, etc.; something to             difficult for teachers to fit into their already
   keep the students focused on the                   busy work schedule. The issue of time may
   knowledge to be gained.”                           never be entirely resolved, but it may become

October 2009 – Report of the teacher survey on video-conferencing in the classroom                 5
less of an obstacle as teachers gain increasing      Contact Information:
knowledge and experience.
                                                     Michelle Fontaine remains the CLC project’s
Results of the survey have also shown that a         pedagogical consultant on educational video-
successful integration of the VCN into teaching      conferencing. She will continue to organize
requires that teachers have continuous access        training sessions and be available to answer
to information, training, financial resources,       questions and requests for assistance. To join
and technical support. The CLC project can           the CLC listserv on educational video-
respond to some, though not all, of these            conferencing, please contact Michelle Fontaine
needs. Administrative support will also be           at
crucial to sustaining and developing teachers’
capacities to employ the VCN successfully. In        The CLC project has recruited a new team
addition, School Boards remain essential to          member, Craig Bullett who will serve as the
ensuring that teachers have access to                “Video-Conferencing and Technical
technical assistance when they are faced with        Coordinator.” He will support CLCs in using the
problems they cannot resolve on their own.           VCN to: a) connect with local and global
                                                     communities, b) develop opportunities for
The way forward                                      collaboration, and c) promote the sharing of
The teachers who responded to the survey             best practices. To contact Craig Bullett, please
gave valuable feedback, ideas and                    write to Suggestions
suggestions. This information is being taken         are also welcome.
into account in the CLC project’s plans for the
current year. The goal is to maintain and            Community Learning Centres
expand on the support that has been offered to       LEARN
teachers since 2007. This includes:                  2030 Boulevard Dagenais West
                                                     Laval, Quebec
1) Providing information on activities,              Tel.: (450) 622-2212
resources and tools through the listserv and         Fax: (450) 622-1460
website on educational video-conferencing.
Visit:                                               References:
Videoconf.html                                       Anderson, T. and Rourke, L. (2005). Video-
                                                     Conferencing in Kindergarten-to-Grade 12
2) Responding to individual requests for             Settings: A Review of the Literature.
information and assistance;                          Athabasca, AB: Centre for Distance Education,
                                                     Athabasca University.
3) Organizing follow-up training sessions on
topics like “best practices” and effective           British Educational Communications and
pedagogical methods;                                 Technology Agency (BECTA). (2004).
                                                     Evaluation of the DfES Video-Conferencing in
4) Coordinating special projects such as             the Classroom Project: Final Report. Coventry,
“Health Week” and “Literacy Week” in which           UK.
various educational activities will be offered to
teachers and students via the VCN.

  We thank you for participating in the
 survey and look forward to continuing to
              work with you!

October 2009 – Report of the teacher survey on video-conferencing in the classroom            6

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