Authentic Audience and Videoconferencing

We have first hand experience with the many faces of authentic audience with Skype and ooVoo. Research projects have brought about audiences in our classroom, down the hallway, up the highways, and across the oceans. Student classwork is seen by many more eyes than just their teacher (with a red pen). Their research,writing and voices are being shared with partners, other classes, on the web, and through video conferences. Let me explain. Students are researching and using web 2.0 tools.

If you have used a webcam then you know what it is like to have a video conference. We have had varying degrees of success with live conferencing. This week one of my 4th grade groups had a video conference with a partner class in New York (with Karen Kliegman, Noel Forte, and Adam Dugger)while using Skype. Although my classes have had “video guest speakers” this was our first time with two classes together. After a few technical snags, we got the hang of it and had fun with Q and A's.

Today we experimented with a newer video conference service http://oovoo.com/ between two classrooms in our own building. This service was suggested by Karen Kleigman (Trail of the First People Project). ooVoo looks very modern and we can see both cameras on our screen while we talk together. Fourth grade students were searching for pictures to use from http://www.pics4learning.com to go with their Native American project. Video conference participants traded tips and information about their research. Students gave good tips on pictures that they found for the regions they were studying. Research groups from different classrooms teamed with each other via webcam. From their conversations I can say that our students were great examples for authentic audience and collaboration.

Noel and I have made plans for more sessions on other topics. Contact me if you are interested in video conferencing too. We are very patient learners together.

For the next phase, student groups in my six classes will choose how they want to combine their previous research and the pictures for the Native American project. Choices are PowerPoint, Photostory3, or learn how to create projects in Voicethread. All of these can be put into wikispaces pages that some of the students are sharing with our partners in Australia and in New York. I am looking forward to the products of our journey with Web 2.o tools.

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