Mod 4: Video Conferencing and Reflections on Blogging

Creating Online Learning Communities Using Video Conferencing

Two apps that work well for creating online learning communities are Skype and OoVoo. Both apps are free and specialize in the ability to video chat, send instant messages, exchange files, and create conference calls. In addition they can both be used on a variety of devices and work with both Microsoft and Apple products. One advantage of Skype over OoVoo is its ability to chat with up to twenty-five people at one time. Although OoVoo only allows twelve people at one time, it has an additional feature that allows users to watch YouTube videos together.

Video conferencing can be used within online courses to generate a greater sense of community by creating a synchronous gathering. Synchronous technologies can create a sense of connectedness or social presence as students meet online to interact and discuss course content and assignments (Abe & Jordan, 2013; Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2014; Yuan & Kim, 2014). One way to foster the idea of an online learning community is to have students use web conferencing for online group projects. As Rockinson-Szapkiw (2014) indicates, students generally have a negative view of online group work because of the challenge it poses when conducted asynchronously.   Using technology that allows students to video chat in real-time allows for improved communication and promotes not only student-to-student engagement, but can also provide better student-instructor engagement as well (Yuan & Kim, 2014).

Challenges usually ensue with the use of technology. Students need to be guided in the use of web conferencing before it is required in the online classroom. As Abe and Jordan (2013) state, even though most students are digital natives, they are not familiar with all types of technology used in education. And, let’s not dismiss the time factor vis-à-vis faculty planning a lesson around the use of web conferencing. As online education continues to expand and technologies continue to be developed, designing ways to increase social interactions and to create a feeling a community in the online classroom will be important for student learning.

References

Abe, P., & Jordan, N. A. (2013). Integrating Social Media into the Classroom Curriculum. About Campus,18(1), 16-20.

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. (2014) Technologies that assist in online group work: A comparison of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration technologies on students’ learning community. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2014 1, 672–677. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Yuan, J., & Kim, C. (2014). Guidelines for facilitating the development of learning communities in online courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(3), 220-232.

Links for free web conferencing:

OoVoo Link: http://www.oovoo.com/

Skype Link: http://www.skype.com/en/

Reflections on Blogging:

The blog that I have created for this class is my first real blog. I created one about five years ago just to try out blogging; however, I abandoned it because at the time, I did not see its practical value. My interest has been renewed; and, I can now recognize the advantages that blogging can offer in the areas of teaching and learning. As Dowling (2013) indicates, blogs are learner-generated content that students create to not only share, but also to interact with others in a public forum. The educational blog motivates students to carefully craft the content so that it can become a valuable resource for others. According to Sullivan and Longnecker (2014) blogs offer several benefits to students, including learning more about a specific subject, fostering a sense of community as bloggers interact with each other, and increasing writing and critical thinking skills.

The main challenge that I have found in maintaining an individual blog as a classroom assignment is the time commitment involved in posting, reading classmates posts, and consistently commenting to others. Another challenge to blogging has been to learn the nuances of the different types of blogs, i.e. WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger. Despite the challenges, blogs give students the opportunity to deeply learn about a subject from multiple perspectives and a diverse audience.

References

Dowling, S. (2013). Using blogs to share learner-generated content. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, 17(2), 22pp. http://www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ1017787

Sullivan, M., & Longnecker, N. (2014). Class blogs as a teaching tool to promote writing and student interaction. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(4).

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11 responses to “Mod 4: Video Conferencing and Reflections on Blogging

  1. Sharon,

    I use Adobe Connect Conferencing in the class. Students can ping me anytime we are online together for a video chat. I have also conducted video class discussions and presented lessons that were interactive using Adobe Connect Conference.

    Our students are shown how to use Adobe Connect Conferencing during their orientation. I really like the tool, and students actually get more face-to-face time (virtual) then my traditional students.

    Mark B

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    • Hi Mark, yes, isn’t it interesting how online students may receive more one-on-one, personal attention than face-to-face students, especially in discussion boards and during synchronous or virtual meetings. 🙂 ~ Sharon

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  2. Hello Sharon. I learned something new from your blog – I had never heard of OoVoo. Being able to video chat is a nice feature/function. I know we used it a good bit for one of our classes in order to complete assignments. It does seem like a necessary tool for online learners that have to work together on an assignment or project. The fact that the two versions you mentioned are free, is a definite plus. Thanks for sharing.

    Debi

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    • Thanks Debi. I am happy to add to your knowledge about video conferencing! It’s always nice to learn about free software that works well for teaching and learning. I found out about OoVoo at one of my conferences. ~ Sharon

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  3. HI Sharon,

    I don’t use anything. I have never video conferenced where I have set it up myself. This is something that is an excellent tool for online learners, but I wonder at the community college where I teach online only how many students would be able to establish the connection on their side for this to actually work.

    Once again I am struck by how much technology is out there that I am completely unaware of. Because technology is not widely used in my department, and is not encouraged for adjuncts to use if FT faculty aren’t using, there is little incentive for me to experiment and learn presently. I guess the incentive is my own education and learning, but then where do I apply it?

    I can see where utilizing Skype or OoVoo (new term to me!) would be beneficial for personal interaction in an online or blended course.

    Thanks again for your experience and sharing this!

    Cecile

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    • HI Cecile, as we have been learning, the pedagogy drives the technology. Once you see where the use of video conferencing will help with your students’ learning, you will be able to incorporate it into your lesson. Skype and OoVoo are both free apps and easy to use. My advise is to take baby steps. You could set up a time to meet your online students to just say hello. It’s a great way to get started. 🙂 ~ Sharon

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  4. Hi Sharon,

    Do you find it challenging to skype with as many people as 25? I think it is definitely a cool idea and can bring outside of the classroom interaction to a whole new level, but I do like many others have my concerns. If these skype meetings occur outside of class time, I think setting a day and time to skype would be a challenge because technically they are not required to be “present”.

    I think skype is a great optional tool where students can ask for help via skype about projects and overall material. I think anyway we can meet the students halfway is great for all!

    Joshua

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    • Hi Josh, when I have used video conferencing in my classroom I have had smaller classes — 8-10 students. I let my student know ahead of time (in the syllabus) when the video conference is to occur so that they could plan for it. My video sessions have typically revolved around a short lesson followed by questions that last about 30 minutes or so. I know that other instructors at our institution use video conferencing for office hours-a day and time is arranged. ~ Sharon

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  5. Sharon,
    I am not big on video conferencing, but do see its merits. I liked the system we used for our group work in this program. I use a similar system at my school for professional development courses and it works great. I think it is WebEx, but I could be wrong. I think that is available to us as instructors, but I have not tried it as of yet. I personally prefer the asynchronous method for online teaching.

    I think inserting videos and even creating short video lectures is useful for those classes, but only in the asynchronous mode. If students want to communicate they can use Skype. My flipped class kind of negates the need for this as we use the class time to work together in groups to discuss the information they developed on their own time. Using classroom presentation, they can then transmit what they learned to the class and put the information into a wiki. I’ll use the wiki part next semester and again, thanks for making that suggestion.

    I had a segment where they individually created a five slide PowerPoint presentation, but that took more class time to present. I didn’t feel the engagement that they are exhibiting with the collaborative method either. They could create a PowerPoint this way as well, and I may suggest that to change things up in the semester too from time to time. However, the important element is the development of information so it can be shared with the whole class for everyone to learn from.

    I like the blog, but other than using it as a platform for links it really is a way for me to share information with others. So far I haven’t gotten much in the way of responses. I probably would if I bashed some lost cause folks, but I can do that on several other blogs. I want to talk about history education and that is an area that does not have a wide audience yet. That may change as I begin a Death to Lecture! series of posts.

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    • Hi Jim, as you know I like to use WebEx. I have used it quite a bit for training faculty in online learning. It really works well for the adjunct faculty who cannot get to campus during the day. It adds that element of social presence and very often faculty like to see how to create online content. By sharing my desktop they get to experience it as if they were sitting in front of me in class. I am going to use Skype in my Critical Thinking class this summer and get my students to talk to one another as they work on their group projects. It will be fun because students in summer classes tend to be more engaged . 🙂 ~ Sharon

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  6. I have never Skyped but I have used teleconferencing. Surprisingly, I am setting my account up now because I will never be left behind when it comes to technology!!!

    Like

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